To mark the third anniversary of launching the war to depose Saddam Hussein, the manufacturers of the “news” have established their usual template, Realistic Media vs. Pollyanna Bush. It’s not pessimism versus optimism, but reality versus hallucination.

During the 11pm hour of the March 21 Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper moderated a discussion on the media’s coverage of Iraq. Among those featured in the debate was Baghdad bureau chief for Time magazine, Michael Ware, who asserted that the "main winners" in Iraq were al-Qaeda and "superstar of international jihad" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Cooper started off the debate by asking conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt why he believes that the public is only hearing bad news out of Iraq. Hewitt slammed the media:

"Anderson, I think the coverage of the Iraq invasion right from the start, all the way through to the present day, has been abysmal in the mainstream media...A lot of new media that goes to Iraq, whether it’s Michael Totten, whether it is Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, whether it’s Victor Davis Hanson or Laura Ingraham or, especially, Robert Kaplan, whose book, Imperial Grunts, is must reading on this, report back enormous progress being made in the country."

Ware sounded defensive as he went after those who dared to criticize the media:

"All of these critics who are saying that we’re not telling the good news stories, I’d like to know just how many of them have spent any time here on the ground? Or any of these people who are reporting the good news from within the belly of the U.S. military, how much time have they spent on the Iraqi street?"

Anderson Cooper sounded more like a political pundit than an objective journalist during a discussion with Time columnist Joe Klein on March 17 on the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Cooper expressed outrage that "none of us have been asked to sacrifice" during this time of war, while Klein asked, "why aren't we collecting clothing for the children of Iraq," even though there are numerous organizations and programs established to do just that.

First, though, Cooper set up Klein to take this shot at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld:

Anderson Cooper: "I mean, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, there’s a lot of people who’ve been calling for his head, and you’ve talked to a lot of people in the Pentagon who are surprised he’s still there. But he looks like he’s–there’s no sign of him going."

Joe Klein: "Rumsfeld ran the most criminally incompetent military campaign, you know, in, in, in the last 100 years, perhaps in American history."

Following up on Brent Baker’s earlier posting on this topic, the networks are not the only ones reluctant to apply the term "partial-birth abortion" in reporting on the Supreme Court decision to review whether a federal law banning the procedure is constitutional. Shortly before 10:30pm on the February 21 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, substitute host John King discussed the issue with legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. The term "partial birth" was referred to only twice in the segment by King, who made sure to note that it was a term used by "critics" of the procedure.

Toobin, for his part, fretted that the partial-birth abortion ban, along with parental notification laws, was part of a strategy from "pro-life forces" to "chip away" at the, apparently set in stone "right" to abortion. To Toobin’s credit, he did mention the popular support for these "later-term abortion restrictions" by the American public.

Jeffrey Toobin: "This is part of a strategy that the pro-life forces have followed for many years, which is that chip away at the right, parental consent laws, later-term abortion restrictions. That’s been effective and the Court has–it is also politically much more popular than regulating early-term abortions. These, these laws, like later-term abortion restrictions, are pretty popular with the public."

A full transcript of the exchange is behind the cut.

A breakneck pace to change West Virginia’s mining laws, and kind words from the state’s governor about the cooperation of mining officials in revamping the Mountain State's mining laws didn’t deter CNN’s Anderson Cooper from pressing for even more stringent regulation when interviewing the state'schief executive on his evening news program.

The heartbreaking story of the 12 miners who died in a West Virginia mine collapse on Monday, January 2, is now common knowledge. The lone survivor remains in the hospital in critical condition. But if viewers were tuned into CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees on Tuesday night, they were in for a surprise.

As reported by Brent Baker in today's CyberAlert, on December 13th, during the second hour of Anderson Cooper 360, CNN highlighted Cindy Sheehan's trip to England, where she traveled to spread her anti-war message.

CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night speculated about whether America has reached a Walter Cronkite Vietnam war assessment "tipping point" as Cooper set up a laudatory profile of anti-war Republican Congressman Walter Jones. After an ad break, Cooper went to Christiane Amanpour who asked French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin if he feels his anti-war efforts have now been "vindicated?" Cooper recalled: "On hearing Walter Cronkite say the war in Vietnam had reached a stalemate after the Tet offensive, President Lyndon Johnson famously said, 'If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost middle America.' Fast forward thirty-seven years, there's no Walter Cronkite to speak for middle America, but reporting from middle America, from a congressional district where support for the military and the President traditionally runs high, we do have CNN's John King." King described Jones' "dramatic transformation" against the war and highlighted a pro-war veteran as well as a retired Marine Colonel who declared: "I'm more convinced than ever that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld will be the Republicans' Robert S. McNamara." King then contended: "Such talk in a patriotic place like this is telling."

In the next segment of Anderson Cooper 360, Amanpour sat down with the anti-war de Villepin, who as "France's Foreign Minister, was way out in front voicing French dissent." Amanpour cued him up: "You obviously did not support it, and you raised many of the issues that are currently unfolding there right now. What do you think? Do you feel vindicated when you look at what Iraq is going through right now?" Amanpour soon relayed de Villepin's shot at violence in the U.S.: "And on France's fiery unrest, two weeks of rioting by French youths of African and Arab origin, de Villepin admits these people do face discrimination, but he downplays the violence compared to what's happened in the U.S." (Transcripts of both stories follow.)

Between the lead story on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Thursday night from Joe Johns on Democratic Congressman John Murtha’s call for withdrawing troops from Iraq and a piece by Candy Crowley on Bush and Cheney striking back at their war critics, Cooper read a statement from White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan comparing Murtha with Michael Moore.

The Internet has been abuzz for the past hour or so over rumors that CNN has either announced, or is about to announce a serious shakeup in its broadcasting staff. As reported by the New York Daily News this morning:

“Looks like Anderson Cooper, CNN'S Silver Fox, may get a permanent slot on ‘NewsNight,’ the 24-hour cable channel's signature prime-time show.

“Cooper will move into the high-profile 10 p.m. hour, while regular ‘NewsNight’ anchor Aaron Brown will be shunted to 7 p.m., where ‘Anderson Cooper 360’ now airs, according to The Hollywood Reporter.”

Yet, reported on Monday that its sources indicated that Brown is out:

People outside of Prince George’s County, Maryland might not be aware of it, but the Pentagon launched a new cable channel recently, and CNN is concerned that this might be a violation of a 50-year-old law barring the government from creating propaganda. CNN’s Jamie McIntyre reported on today’s “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees”:

“The Pentagon Channel originates from studios here in Alexandria, Virginia. There's everything here you'd expect to find in a modern television station, cameras, teleprompters, computers. The one thing it says it doesn't have is an agenda to advance administration policies.”

However, to counter this view, McIntyre asked the opinion of former CNN correspondent and current University of Delaware Professor Ralph Begleiter:

“You want to have radio free America or some such hypothetical title, broadcasting propaganda to the United States, no. We don't allow that in this country. It's a law.”

What follows is a full transcript of this report, along with a video link.

Cindy Sheehan earned a live interview segments at the start of Monday's 7pm EDT Hardball on MSNBC, where she appeared from Texas with her sister, Deedee Miller, and then just past 7:30pm EDT Sheehan showed up live on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 with anti-war activist Pat Vogel.

After Sheehan went on at length about how the U.S. is “building bases the size of Sacramento, California in Iraq. They plan on never leaving” and “I see Iraq as the base for spreading imperialism. And if we don't stop them now, our babies and our unborn grandchildren will be fighting this," Matthews suggested: “You sound more informed than most U.S. Congresspeople, so maybe you should run."

In contrast, Cooper hit her with her own words, pressing her to re-affirm: “Do you really believe the President of the United States is the biggest terrorist in the world?” Cooper pushed her several times, but she wouldn't back off her claim.