ABC Labels UK Withdrawal 'Bad News' Before Cheney Calls It Sign of Progress

Nothing for the MSM like dumping a little pre-emptive cold water on the Bush administration and the situation in Iraq. Introducing his interview with Vice-President Cheney this morning, ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl claimed:

"It would appear that the British announcement [of a partial withdrawal of forces from Iraq] is bad news for the Bush administration, but in the first official reaction from the United States, Vice-President Cheney told ABC News that he thinks that the announcement is actually good news -- a sign of progress in Iraq."

ABC then ran the clip of VP Cheney making his case: "I look at it, and what I see is an affirmation that in parts of Iraq things are going pretty well. I talked to a friend who just the other day had driven from Baghdad down to Basra [in the Shia-dominated south], seven hours. Found the situation dramatically improved from the way it was a year or so ago. Sort of validated the British view that they have made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore afford to reduce their force levels."

Cheney's statement is consistent with the explanation offered by British PM Tony Blair:

"The situation in Basra is very different from Baghdad. It is still a difficult and sometimes dangerous place, but many extremists have been arrested or left the city. The reported levels of murder and kidnapping are significantly down."

So why did Karl find it necessary to contradict Mr. Cheney's view in advance, rather than let viewers assess the Vice President's statement for themselves? You don't suppose ABC could have a vested interest in portraying events in Iraq in negative terms, do you?

Mark was in Iraq in November. Contact him at

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