Not Obama's Problem: Iraq's Deadliest Month Since '08 Gets Scant Network Coverage

Over 1000 Iraqis were killed in July, victims of bombings and shootings marking that country's deadliest month since April of 2008. According to the Washington Times, Iraq is sliding into "chaos" with al Qaeda militants stoking terror. Yet, the three networks provided only scant coverage of the escalating death toll. From July 1 to July 31, the ABC, NBC and CBS evening and morning shows allowed only four minutes and 49 seconds to highlighting the unraveling situation.

In contrast, the networks in 2005 aggressively reported bad news and a pessimistic outlook for the country when a Republican was in the White House. Obviously, there's a difference between the two situations, given the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops. However, it seems as though NBC, CBS and ABC have effectively decided that the stability of Iraq is no longer a concern for George W. Bush's Democratic replacement.

ABC provided the least amount of coverage, a mere 28 seconds devoted to the bombings and killings over two segments. On July 29, Good Morning America's Josh Elliott summarized, "But in Iraq this morning, major new concerns about security there. As many as 15 car bombs exploded across the country today. Most of them targeting Shiite Muslims, at least 62 people have died in the attacks. "

On July 21, GMA's Ron Claiborne warned of a "deadly wave of violence." He recounted, "Seven car bombs exploded on busy streets in a Shiite section of Baghdad. At least 46 people were killed."

NBC managed two minutes and one second (or two segments). On the July 31 Nightly News, Brian Williams delivered the "sad headline," recounting, "July has now been the single deadliest month there since '08."

CBS provided the most coverage, although that doesn't say much. The network managed two minutes and 20 seconds over three segments. On the July 29 CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer recounted the latest "deadly day" and noted, "There's been a surge of violence throughout Iraq. By some accounts close to seven hundred people have died just this month alone."

The situation in Iraq hasn't improved in August. In the last week alone, 85 people have been killed.

In July, over a mere three days, the networks devoted an astounding 187 minutes to the birth of the British royal baby. When ABC, NBC and CBS want to focus time, energy and manpower to a topic, they do it. The chaos and uncontrolled violence in Iraq clearly isn't a priority.

Barack Obama is the President of the United States. His defenders may say that he didn't start the war and with troops gone, it's no longer his problem.

However, if this volatile and strategically located country was important before, it's still relevant now. As the Washington Times's Ashish Kumar Sen reported, the violence "could draw U.S. troops back into Iraq."

Sen noted, "Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has recommended sending U.S. military trainers to help build Iraqi security forces’ capabilities."

If journalists covered Iraq fairly, they would seriously cover the violence and its implications, both for America and President Obama.

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Scott Whitlock's picture

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