Early Show "Balances" Dave Price's Iraq Coverage; Hypes Zarqawi Effectiveness

The subject of Iraq was once again discussed on this morning’s "Early Show" as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both made unannounced visits to Baghdad to show support for the new government.

CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier, reporting from Baghdad, mentioned that the formation of a unity government in Iraq will eventually allow US troops to draw down, though she made clear that it was unclear when this could happen. She also noted that Rumsfeld was visibly tired when he got off the plane, but it couldn’t just have been because he flew all night, no, Dozier implied it also had something to do with the criticism of some retired generals.

Kimberly Dozier: "Well, the surprise visitors are here to highlight Iraq's new government, and just what that could mean for Americans, namely starting to bring U.S. troops back home from Iraq. The Defense Secretary was visibly tired after flying all through the night and possibly from the wringer he's been put through lately with a number of retired generals calling for his resignation. This was a chance for him, and America's top general in Iraq, George W. Casey, to talk about the things they believe are going right, like Iraq's new government and security forces."

While playing up the number of generals who want Rumsfeld to resign and questioning his credibility, pointing out things that are going right in Iraq as things that Rumsfeld merely believes are going right for example. Towards the end of the report, she managed to hype credibility and effectiveness of the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi:

Kimberly Dozier: As the top U.S. officials praised Iraqi progress, another major figure made a surprise appearance to denounce it. Jordanian terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi released his first-ever full-length video condemning the new Iraqi government as American stooges and promising to drive U.S. forces out.

She finished her story by focusing on the "results" Zarqawi’s tape had obtained :

U.S. military analysts say he's obviously trying to win support from Iraq's minority Sunnis and scare everyone else. Now, in some senses it is working across the streets of Baghdad this morning. There were far fewer cars because people thought Zarqawi would launch a new string of attacks.

Fortunately, for those who are sick of the negative portrayal of Iraq and members of the media who present the story as the terrorists are winning and the U.S. and our coalition allies are losing, there is CBS weatherman Dave Price. Price delivered the second installment of his 2 part series on his journey to Iraq to entertain the troops. At the end of the segment, Price had the following exchange with "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith:

Harry Smith: "... The other thing I want to know, as you were over there, you met so many people. You were so warmly received. Did the folks over there feel like their story is being told?"

Dave Price: "They're frustrated. One soldier said to me, we're building trust in Iraq. Tell me how you put trust on television, and I challenge you to do it at the same time as you report the body count. So, we take that challenge."

It is heartening to know that at least one person emplyed by the media accepted the news reporting challenge laid down by this soldier. Unfortunately, I don’t expect to see many others follow suit.

Iraq CBS Early Show