Early Cold Water Bursts on NBC's 'Today'

How on Earth would the networks work in the alleged Marine massacre at Haditha today? Oh, don't worry. Matt Lauer was on that six minutes into the show, MRC's Geoff Dickens reports. Oh, the timing was very political, we at NBC would like to underline:

Matt Lauer: "And Mik, let me just talk about the timing of this. The, the U.S. military has been rocked over the last couple of weeks by headlines suggesting an alleged massacre in Haditha. So clearly this comes at a very important time for the Pentagon."

Jim Miklaszewski: "Well it comes at an important time for the Pentagon, the Bush administration but also for the Iraqis to sort of regain some confidence in their own security forces, Matt. And it was no mistake that the U.S. sat on this information for about 18 hours and allowed the information to be conveyed to the Iraqis and the world by Prime Minister Maliki."

A minute later, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell picked up the cold water balloons and began throwing as she recounted Zarqawi's menacing life:

"Well the death of Zarqawi will not end the insurgency in Iraq, according to intelligence officials but they do say it is a major blow to a terrorist with broader ambitions. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a 39-year-old Jordanian was often known as a lone wolf and a master of disguise. A veteran of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the eighties he later returned to Jordan and was jailed for seven years. After being released from prison in 1999 he returned to Afghanistan until the arrival of U.S. troops in 2002 caused him to flee to Iran and then Iraq. In October 2004 Zarqawi pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden. At times it seemed a marriage of convenience with Zarqawi competing with bin Laden to claim credit for high profile terror attacks. His record of violence was extraordinary.

October 2002: The U.S. blames Zarqawi for the death in Amman, Jordan of American diplomat Lawrence Foley.

February 2003: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell used Zarqawi's presence in Iraq to claim that al-Qaeda had a link to Saddam Hussein, a pretext for war, even though Zarqawi was not under Saddam's control.

August 2003: Zarqawi is blamed for the bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing 23.

In this ghoulish video Zarqawi personally beheaded American businessman Nicholas Berg in May 2004.

Last fall the U.S. intercepted a letter from Osama Bin Laden's top deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri to Zarqawi warning him not to attack fellow Muslims. But only months later he attacked a wedding party in his native Jordan. The first step toward broadening his reach throughout the Middle East and even in recent months to Europe. This past February,  Zarqawi's group blew up a mosque in Samarra, sparking the worst round of sectarian violence in Iraq.

Remember how Samarra was one of those events that the media worked hard into a potential "tipping point" to U.S. withdrawal? Will it be harder now for the insurgents to work up the anti-war news media into a frenzy?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis