Despite some of the optimism that has been expressed in a number of recent media reports leading up to Thursday’s historic elections in Iraq – in particular, the great job that ABC News has been doing the past few days with its “Iraq: Where Things Stand” series – CBS’s “The Early Show” stayed quite glum this morning (video link to follow). Julie Chen introduced the segment stating, “President Bush says progress is being made, but many Iraqis have other ideas.” Lara Logan reporting from Baghdad then played a numbers game that created the appearance that there have been more American deaths in Iraq than is the case:
“Some 18,000 Americans have been killed and injured since the start of this war. But 94% of those casualties occurred after the fall of Baghdad.”
Logan really painted a grim picture when she referred to Iraqi casualties: “And the bodies of innocent Iraqis continue to pile up here every day as the insurgency shows no sign of weakening.”
Logan concluded with a tremendously pessimistic view of the upcoming elections: “There is no sign that a successful election will bring an end to the fighting. Sunni Arabs who make up most of the insurgents have urged their followers to vote but there is no talk of a cease-fire.”
Yet, nowhere in this report was there any discussion of the magnitude of what is going to happen in this country in two days, what it means for the region, or what it means for these people. In addition, Logan didn’t mention recent projections of huge voter turnout on Thursday, including by Sunnis. Finally, there was no mention of a recent ABC News/TIME magazine poll released yesterday that identified tremendous optimism amongst the Iraqi population.
What follows is a full transcript of this report, and a video link.
Julie Chen: 1,000 days. That’s how long U.S. troops have been fighting the war in Iraq. With an important election coming up, President Bush says progress is being made but many Iraqis have other ideas. CBS News correspondent Lara Logan is live in Baghdad with more. Good morning to you, Lara.
Lara Logan: Good morning, Julie. Well, it wasn't long after U.S. Forces unleashed their shock and awe campaign that the Iraq war seemed to be over. But it's now a thousand days since it all began in March 2003 and we're still here. Saddam Hussein's regime crumbled in a matter of weeks and by May, President Bush had declared the end of major combat operations. Some 18,000 Americans have been killed and injured since the start of this war. But 94% of those casualties occurred after the fall of Baghdad. The Iraqi people have paid an even greater price.
President Bush: How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say 30,000, more or less have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis.
Logan: The first time President Bush has put a number on Iraqi civilian deaths. But the White House quickly pointed out, this was not an official figure. International observers believe the real number is much higher. And the bodies of innocent Iraqis continue to pile up here every day as the insurgency shows no sign of weakening. U.S. and Iraqi forces are determined violence won't be able to stop the elections Thursday. The country is virtually locked down and raids against insurgents are ongoing. Americans hope a successful election will enable them to start pulling out U.S. Troops from next year, something many Iraqi people desperately want to see. But the prime minister acknowledged that couldn't happen before Iraqi forces are ready.
Ibrahim al Jaafari: We want the multi-national forces to leave. But we don't want security to disappear as well.
Logan: There is no sign that a successful election will bring an end to the fighting. Sunni Arabs who make up most of the insurgents have urged their followers to vote but there is no talk of a cease-fire.