NBC: Yes to Prison Photos, No to Muhammed Cartoons

<p><img hspace="0" src="media/2006-03-10-NBCBoettcher.jpg" align="right" border="0" />United States officials announced yesterday that the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq will be closing in a few months. This gave NBC yet another <a href="node/3324">excuse</a> to show a montage of the famous abuse photos. Mike Boettcher, appearing at 7:06AM EST on the March 10 edition of <i>Today</i>, described the planned closing this way: </p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><p>Boettcher:<b> &quot;During Saddam Hussein's reign and later under U.S. occupation, </b>Abu Ghraib became perhaps the world's most notorious prison. Photographs of prisoner abuse by American guards at Abu Ghraib sparked an international scandal.&quot; <b>(Pictures of abused prisoners overlap Boettcher’s comments.</b>)</p></blockquote><p>So it was<i> </i>Saddam Hussein <i>and</i> the United States that made the prison notorious? A naked pyramid may be bad, but it’s not the same as brutal murder. <!--break-->Further, it should be pointed out that <i>Today</i> (and NBC in general) did not show the Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. But Abu Ghraib prison photos seem to be displayed for almost any reason, as Newsbusters blogger Mark Finkelstein <a href="node/2635">pointed out</a> on November 2, 2005. <i>Today</i> aired one of the photos for a general story on secret prisons. <!--break-->Abu Ghraib closes this summer, hopefully that will be NBC’s last &quot;opportunity&quot; to show their favorite pictures. </p><p>A transcript follows: </p><p>Today</p><p>3/10/06</p><p>7:06AM EST</p><p>Ann Curry</p><p>Mike Boettcher</p><p>Curry: &quot;Meantime, the U.S. has announced that within months it will no longer operate the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. NBC's Mike Boettcher is in Iraq for us this morning. Mike, good morning.&quot;</p><p>Boettcher: &quot;Well, good morning, Ann. U.S. authorities first spoke of closing Abu Ghraib in 2004 when it became a symbol of American abuse, wartime abuse in this area. And also a recruiting tool for the insurgency. The U.S. currently holds more then 4000 prisoners at Abu Ghraib.<b> During Saddam Hussein's reign and later under U.S. occupation, Abu Ghraib became perhaps the world's most notorious prison. Photographs of prisoner abuse by (Montage of four Abu Ghraib prison photos) American guards at Abu Ghraib sparked an international scandal.</b> By midsummer, the U.S. military says it will hand over the prison to Iraqi authorities and transfer the inmates to a new prison being built near Baghdad's airport.&quot;</p><p>Pace: &quot;The facility then will be owned and operated by the Iraqi government and that government will decide when the facility closes, if it does.&quot;</p><p>Boettcher: &quot;Outside Abu Ghraib's walls, sectarian violence continues to erupt in Iraq. Last night, five were killed and twelve wounded when a car bomb exploded near a Sunnis mosque in Baghdad. A sign of the times here, there was supposed to be a national unity march tomorrow, but it was cancelled because of security reasons.&quot; </p><p />

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org