Coverage Tone

It’s interesting to think how much (and how little) influence news anchors have in the portrayal of stories they tell on network news. This piece from the Washington Post talks about the dilemma people like Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams faced in how to talk and the words to use about the worsening situation in Iraq after the situation started falling apart.

For example, from Brian Williams:

Every day, Williams asked the question: Did Baghdad correspondent Richard Engel have any news other than another 20 Iraqi civilians killed when an IED detonated, leaving the same smoking carcasses and pathetic scenes of loved ones crying? That, Williams felt, was the problem: The horrible had become utterly commonplace. To most Americans, he believed, the war could not be more ephemeral. It was half a world away, and it required no sacrifice by those who did not have a family member in the armed forces.

The article also talks about how Katie Couric had been somewhat browbeaten by the NBC president on how persistently she probed for answers from Rice.

Couric felt there was a subtle, insidious pressure to toe the party line, and you bucked that at your peril. She wanted to believe that her NBC colleagues were partners in the search for truth, and no longer felt that was the case. She knew that the corporate management viewed her as an out-and-out liberal. When she ran into Jack Welch, the General Electric chairman, he would sometimes say that they had never seen eye to eye politically. If you weren’t rah rah rah for the Bush administration, and the war, you were considered unpatriotic, even treasonous.

I’ll leave conclusions as an exercise to the reader.

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