NBC News itself had been the newsmaker all day with its division-wide decision to refer to the sectarian violence in Iraq as a "civil war." NBC did not lead with its own decision, but Andrea Mitchell referred to it towards the end of her lead package. She quoted NBC's in-house historian Michael Beschloss with the following rationale: "A country where a lot of groups are struggling for power--and that is primarily the struggle."

The White House and NBC's rivals both implicitly acknowledged that the CW label was a hot issue. ABC's Charles Gibson shrugged "you can call it anarchy; you can call it chaos; you can call it civil war…" and CBS' Katie Couric pointed out that the Bush Administration "is still not calling it a civil war." National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley briefed the White House press corps on Air Force One as it flew to the NATO Summit in Latvia. CBS' Jim Axelrod agreed that the White House does not want to use that CW term "because that is the next category of chaos." But when Hadley said the conflict had entered a "new phase," Axelrod commented: "He has got to acknowledge reality."

In Washington the Iraq Study Group is about to submit its policy recommendations. CBS' David Martin's source told him that the ISG report would be "unanimous or nothing at all." ABC's Martha Raddatz (subscription required) predicted that the ISG will call for US diplomacy with Iran and Syria, something that President George Bush is "unlikely to accept." He is also "adamant" against a timetable for US troop withdrawal. And NBC's Mitchell noted that while the US may not talk to Iran, Iraq already is. She led with diplomacy between presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Jalal Talabani. Ahmadinejad is "only too eager to step into the diplomatic vacuum."


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