COMMENTS: Too Many Yellow Ribbons

The networks' disproportionate preoccupation with that ambush against a unit of the Tenth Mountain Division in the countryside south of Baghdad twelve days ago persists. Of the seven GIs involved, five are known dead with the remaining two missing, believed captured. The latest update was the identification of the fifth fatality--Pvt Joseph Anzack--which sent NBC's George Lewis and ABC's Miguel Marquez to his Torrance Cal hometown as his former high school football Spartans mourned their one-time nose guard.

It is astonishing those two reports were the 11th and 12th on the weekday nightly newscasts devoted to this single skirmish. As much as the US military seemed to overreact to the incident by sending 4,000 troops to search for a mere three captives--that was covered by ABC's Terry McCarthy, CBS' Mark Strassmann and NBC's Ian Williams from Baghdad--the networks' overattention has been in kind.

When it was revealed that the unit is based in Fort Drum, ABC's David Muir (subscription required) and CBS' Sharyn Alfonsi visited. When Gen David Petraeus stated, erroneously, that the trio was alive, NBC's Williams aired that soundbite. When troops went door to door in the so-called Triangle of Death, CBS' Strassmann accompanied them. When the fourth fatality was identified, NBC's Jennifer London brought us his bereaved family. When Anzack's body was found in the River Euphrates, NBC's Williams and CBS' Strassmann told us about it.

By rights, this should be enough--but we still await the fates of the sixth and seventh members to be documented in minute detail.


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