NBC, CBS Ignore Barack Obama’s ‘Killing Civilians’ in Afghanistan Comment

Of the three morning shows, only ABC’s "Good Morning America" has reported the comment by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that part of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is made up of "air-raiding villages and killing civilians." Both CBS’s "Early Show" and "Today" on NBC have ignored the August 14 comment. On Friday’s GMA, however, reporter David Wright filed a report on the statement and wondered if Obama is ready to be president. An ABC graphic pointedly asked, "Obama’s Foot in Mouth Disease? Too Inexperienced For Campaign?"

After playing a brief clip of the Illinois senator’s comment, which he made during a speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Wright mentioned previous impolitic statements by Obama, such as threatening to invade Pakistan. The ABC journalist noted that Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, raised the issue of civilian casualties with President Bush. He asserted, "...Presumably, Hamid Karzai used language that was more diplomatic, more presidential." Wright did qualify his analysis of the presidential candidate by soft pedaling the critique slightly. He asked, "There is no question Obama is smart and well-briefed, but is he ready to be president?" However, GMA has at least publicized the comment, unlike the "Early Show" or "Today."

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:12am on August 17, follows:

Diane Sawyer: "And now we turn to the race for the White House. This weekend in Iowa, George Stephanopoulos and ABC News holding, sponsoring a Democratic presidential debate. And this time, the spotlight is sure to be on Illinois Senator Barack Obama who has spent the past few days defending himself, but, about his own words. Here’s ABC’s David Wright."

ABC Graphic: "Obama’s Foot in Mouth Disease? Too Inexperienced For Campaign?"

Wright: "When Obama said he'd chase Osama bin Laden into Pakistan, with or without that country's approval, Pakistan protested and his rivals questioned his experience. Would any of them actually wait to act on actionable intelligence? Probably not. They just might not say so out loud."

Cokie Roberts: (ABC News): "A lot of people would agree with a lot of what he's saying. But the way he's saying it comes across as someone who is not quite ready for primetime."

Wright: "The Pakistan flap came on the heels of Obama's promise to sit down face to face with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro."

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY): "I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive."

Wright: "They disagree. "Then this week at a New Hampshire forum, Obama seemed to criticize the performance of U.S. troops in Afghanistan."

Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill) in video from YouTube: "Air raiding villages and killing civilians."

David Gergen (Fmr. Presidential advisor): "I think there are positions a presidential candidate can take, but they have to be taken with precision. It's not wise of a candidate to bring a sledgehammer."

Wright: "Civilian casualties are a huge issue in Afghanistan. Last week at Camp David, the Afghan president raised the issue directly with President Bush. But presumably, Hamid Karzai used language that was more diplomatic, more presidential."

Hamid Karzai (President of Afghanistan): "I had a good discussion with President Bush on civilian casualties."

Wright: "There is no question Obama is smart and well-briefed, but is he ready to be president?"

Roberts: "Politicians get into trouble when they do or say something that plays into a story line that's already there. When Ronald Reagan seemed too old, that was a problem, when George Bush seemed too elite, that was a problem."

Wright: "For Obama, the Achilles' heel may be experience. So, on Sunday, he'll have to weigh every word. For ‘Good Morning America,’ David Wright, ABC News, Washington."

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