Stop the presses! ABC's got a scoop: the situation in Iraq isn't ideal.
Trying to pave the way for the rejection of the Petraeus report, today's "Good Morning America" took the tack that the lack of complete calm is proof of the surge's failure.
Co-anchor Kate Snow set the negative tone by displaying a poll finding to the effect a majority of Americans believe the Petraeus report "will try to make things look better" in Iraq rather than portraying the situation "honestly."
Then it was on to a report from Iraq by ABC's Terry McCarthy. Don't miss the video of Snow and co-anchor Bill Weir walking in unison across the GMA stage, crossing a floor-map of Iraq to a video screen displaying McCarthy's report. Their studied maneuver reminded me of a bridesmaid and groom attendant doing their earnest best at a wedding rehearsal.
The leitmotif of McCarthy's report: yeah, things might be better in Iraq, but darn it, they're not perfect.
TERRY MCCARTHY: Iraqis have been making their own assessement of the surge, and they're not that impressed. Now, statistically car bombings and sectarian killings might have gone down, but they haven't stopped, and for many Iraqis here life is a daily passage through hell.
General Petraeus brought 30,000 extra U.S. troops into Baghdad and surrounding areas. They have detained or killed many death-squad leaders and would-be suicide bombers. But they have not eliminated them all, nor the fear they inspire among ordinary citizens.
Cut to some man-in-the-Iraqi-street interviews. The first claims to not feel safe anywhere, though he wears a relaxed smile while standing on the sidewalk of a street thronged with apparent shoppers. The next man says: "It is true the U.S. succeeded in clearing some hot neighborhoods, but they didn't succeed 100%."
After taking some shots at the lack of performance of the Maliki government, McCarthy trains his sights on Anbar. Harder to make the case things haven't improved there, but the ABC reporter does his un-level best.
MCCARTHY: U.S. commanders have pointed to a steep reduction in violence in Anbar province to the west of Baghdad as proof that the surge is working. But when we talked to local people there, they told us they were scared to travel outside their own areas.
MAN-IN-THE-FALLUJAH-STREET: Yes, security is much better than before, but nobody from Fallujah can go to Baghdad because of the armed militias.
Back to McCarthy for a final downer of an assessment.
MCCARTHY: In the middle of all the violence, many Iraqis have to struggle to get the daily necessities for life. U.S. troops may be making some progress on the ground, but they're still a long way away from winning the hearts and minds of these traumatized Iraqi people.
Got it? Things might be better in Iraq. But they're not perfect. And there are Iraqis willing to express their frustrations on camera. Conclusive proof, ABC-style, that the surge has failed.