With things starting to go well in Iraq, the networks are scaling back their coverage:
According to data compiled by Andrew Tyndall, a television consultant who monitors the three network evening newscasts, coverage of Iraq has been “massively scaled back this year.” Almost halfway into 2008, the three newscasts have shown 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage, compared with 1,157 minutes for all of 2007. The “CBS Evening News” has devoted the fewest minutes to Iraq, 51, versus 55 minutes on ABC’s “World News” and 74 minutes on “NBC Nightly News.” (The average evening newscast is 22 minutes long.)
CBS News no longer stations a single full-time correspondent in Iraq, where some 150,000 United States troops are deployed.
The networks cry that covering Iraq is too expensive now:
“It’s terrible,” Ms. Logan [of CBS] said in the telephone interview. She called it a financial decision. “We can’t afford to maintain operations in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time,” she said. “It’s so expensive and the security risks are so great that it’s prohibitive.”
Mr. Friedman psenior VP at CBS] said coverage of Iraq is enormously expensive, mostly due to the security risks. He said meetings with other television networks about sharing the costs of coverage have faltered for logistical reasons.
I don’t buy it. How can security cost more now that it’s easier? No, they just don’t like the product they’re getting now.
Besides, they could embed for free. Why don’t they do that?
Ms. Logan said she begged for months to be embedded with a group of Navy Seals, and when she came back with the story, a CBS producer said to her, “One guy in uniform looks like any other guy in a uniform.”
Oh, they don’t like the stories they get from embedding. Too many actual servicemen that way.
Bottom line, Iraq coverage is all about politics:
Journalists at all three American television networks with evening newscasts expressed worries that their news organizations would withdraw from the Iraqi capital after the November presidential election. They spoke only on the condition of anonymity in order to avoid offending their employers.