Harry Smith, co-host of CBS’s "The Early Show," has spent the last few days reporting from Baghdad. On Friday, he reported the security situation was such that he couldn’t go out and get ice cream. But today, he decided to look for a success story. He found one, but he proved that while he can report a bad news story without mentioning any good news, he can’t report a success story without finding negative items to talk about. Reporting from Baghdad, Harry Smith began his piece, which profiled the work of the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division’s work in the town of Sababor, talking about the violence in Iraq: "Yeah, good morning. I'll tell you what, just an illustration of how much bad news there is here. A friend of mine here in Iraq told me the other day 'the busiest people in this town are the terrorists.'" Later, he talked of a bombing in Sababor which occurred a month ago: "It hasn't been easy. Just a month ago, a bomb here killed 15 people."
And at one point, "The Early Show" co-host appeared surprised to learn that people in Sababor view Americans positively. And Smith seemed even more shocked when one of the boys told him his name was "Bush" after Smith had an apparent James Bond like moment in introducing himself to the boy.
Harry Smith: "Are Americans good or bad?"
Iraqi child: "Good"
Harry Smith: "They are good."
Iraqi child: "Yes"
Iraqi child #2: "What's your name?"
Harry Smith: "Huh?"
Iraqi child #2: "What's your name?"
Harry Smith: "My name? Smith. Harry Smith."
Iraqi child #2: "Sir, my name is Bush."
Harry Smith: "Your name is Bush?"
Iraqi child #2 "Yes."
Harry Smith: (Pointing at child and chuckling) "He says his name is Bush."
But before the visual of smiling Iraqi children and their positive feelings towards Americans could affect viewers, Smith reminded the audience of the violence with his very next sentence.
"The cost of these smiles has been steep. April was a particularly deadly month."
To be fair, after Colonel David Thomson described what the April casualties from his unit were, Smith noted:
"Still, Colonel Thomson is convinced the sacrifice is not in vain."
Colonel Thomson was then shown remarking:
David Thomson: "As you know, we're going to have an election here today for <inaudible>, and that's huge down here at this level. So, I don't know if we could have done that a year, 2 years ago here. And that's about, that's freedom. So I think those elements of freedom, those visible signs of freedom give me a lot of reassurance that we're doing the right thing. We're making progress."
Smith had one other exchange of note, in which he commented to Lieutenant Eric Brown that his unit’s mission in Sababor has had positive outcomes:
"These members of the 4th ID patrol on foot several times a day. They gain the trust of the people, and maybe even find out where the bad guys are. You're in the middle of a success story."
Lieutenant Brown responded by suggesting that his unit is doing their job and they’ll let others decide whether they were successful or not:
Eric Brown: "Well we'll see when we get out of here how successful, history will tell us how successful we've been, but yeah."
It is refreshing to hear some positive things coming from Iraq. We all know about the bombings and loss of life, and they are tragic stories that should be told, but so are the lesser known positive stories such as the progress in Sababor and these positive stories deserve as much attention as the negative news we hear. However, I hold out little hope that the media will make reporting these stories the rule rather than the occasional exception.