In Friday night stories on President Barack Obama's plan to reduce troops in Iraq by 90,000, neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned a key factor raised by ABC reporters Jake Tapper and Martha Raddatz.
On ABC's World News, over video of Tapper standing at Camp Lejeune with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Tapper noted: “Defense Secretary [Robert] Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen today credited President Bush's surge, opposed by then-Senator Obama, with helping to pave the way for today's announcement.” Viewers then heard a short soundbite from Gates: “It clearly has put us in a very different place in terms of where Iraq is.”
Up next on the February 27 newscast, Raddatz addressed the military's reaction, and shared her assessment:
I think if there hadn't been a surge, if there hadn't been such success, you wouldn't have seen those Marines clapping today. It would be a very different kind of speech.
Raddatz repeated her observation 90 minutes later on PBS's Washington Week:
This speech today, had the surge not been successful from a security standpoint, would have been a very, very difficult speech. You wouldn't have seen any Marines clapping.
Setting up a CBS piece from David Martin, on how those who have served in Iraq greeted Obama's plan, anchor Katie Couric did acknowledge the improved situation in Iraq, though she avoided giving President Bush any credit: “One big reason the administration can withdraw combat troops is the success the U.S. military has had on the ground.”