On Iraq War Anniversary, Couric Leaves U.S. Ambassador on Cutting-Room Floor

READ UPDATE AT FOOT: Bill O'Reilly and guests discuss how "conservative bloggers" impacted the story.

To mark yesterday's fourth-anniversary of the war in Iraq, CBS News requested an interview with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. The ambassador took time from a hectic war-time schedule to speak from Baghdad with Katie Couric, and in the course of the interview provided a first-hand view of how the new surge strategy is working.

But when last night's Evening News aired, lo and behold, the interview never ran. It was instead relegated to an obscure corner of Katie's online blog. CBS apparently determined that Ambassador Khalilzad's comments weren't "newsworthy."

Katie & Co. did find time for Bob Woodward [who to my knowledge has never been to Iraq], to opine that the violence in Iraq wouldn't persuade President Bush to change course.

Could it be that Couric and CBS aren't interested in having the American people hear from an authoritative source as to how matters might be improving in Iraq?

UPDATE 3-23-07: On the "O'Reilly Factor" of March 22nd, host Bill O'Reilly discussed CBS' decision not to run the Khalilzad interview and the way "conservative bloggers" had impacted the story.

Excerpts:

BILL O'REILLY: But it looks bad -- it looks bad. The first week you're on the job, you've got a long resume of being a partisan hack -- we're talking about Kaplan -- to then kill the entire interview, which was set up by the State Department. You know, these aren't -- you know, the ambassador is pretty busy these days, Bernie.

BERNARD GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Right.

O'REILLY: You know, you disrespect him. You give the conservative bloggers all kinds of ammunition. Or you can just incorporate 20 or 30 seconds into another package.

JANE HALL, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Well, you know, I think -- I read the transcript, and I think they [CBS] had a tin ear to how this might play to conservative bloggers. But he didn't really say anything specific. It would be hard to get a sound bite out of it. I think they should have run a sound bite just because they interviewed him, probably

Note: Bill links to this item at his site. 

Mark was in Iraq in November. Contact him at mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.