Networks That Hyped Haditha 'Massacre' Now Ignore Acquittal

The same network newscasts that hyped the 2005 "alleged massacre" by U.S. soldiers in Haditha are so far ignoring the acquittal on all charges of Lieutenant Andrew Grayson on Thursday. Grayson was accused of attempting to cover up details of the events surrounding a raid that lead to the death of 15 Iraqis. However, Grayson's acquittal was skipped by ABC's "Good Morning America," CBS's "Early Show" and NBC's "Today" show. (CNN's "American Morning" covered the story only as a news brief.)

In contrast, the morning shows seemed much more interested in the subject back when dark allegations were made about the actions of U.S. solders in Haditha. On Memorial Day 2006, then-GMA host Charles Gibson intoned, "America honors its fallen war heroes, but troubling new information about Marine misconduct in Iraq. A new eyewitness on what could be a mass murder of civilians. Was there a cover-up?" On the March 20, 2006, "Nightly News," host Brian Williams touted the "disturbing new allegations" made by Congressman John Murtha about Haditha. (It should be noted that, so far, five of the eight originally charged with murder or cover-up have been acquitted.) On May 25, 2006, referencing the massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in 1968, "Nightline" host Terry Moran speculated, "Will Haditha be the My Lai of the Middle East?" On June 7 of that year, reporter Andrea Mitchell opined on "Today" that Haditha was a "black eye for American policy."

A 2006 MRC study of how CNN, MSNBC and Fox News covered Iraq found that CNN and MSNBC were much more likely to focus on the negative, such as incidents like Haditha:

CNN and MSNBC’s coverage took on the characteristics of a feeding frenzy, with the U.S. troops presumed guilty. CNN anchor Tony Harris echoed Murtha’s inflammatory charges during a May 30 report: "Men, women and children, gunned down in cold blood. That’s the allegation....U.S. Marines are suspected of killing two dozen unarmed civilians, accusations of a cover-up also a part of the mix. Democratic Congressman John Murtha has been briefed on what happened....Murtha calls the alleged atrocity as bad as the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, if not worse."

Three days later, CNN’s John Vause extended the indictment to all U.S. troops, not just the few being investigated regarding Haditha: "There is a perception that U.S. forces are brutal and are, at times, trigger happy."

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