COMMENTS: Zimbabwe under CBS' Spotlight

A confused news agenda saw CBS singlehandedly make Zimbabwe the Story of the Day. Anchor Katie Couric conducted a telephone interview with Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition politician who pulled out of the presidential election in the face of organized violence by government forces. Couric's five minutes of coverage on Zimbabwe were enough to exceed the time allotted to any other single piece of news, even though she did not choose Zimbabwe as the day's lead. CBS kicked off with forest fires in northern California. NBC chose statistics from the Centers for Disease Control on the incidence of diabetes. ABC, with substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas, selected the continuing decline in the value of residential real estate.

Tsvangirai talked to CBS' Couric from the diplomatic sanctuary of The Netherlands' embassy in Harare: "I have been arrested. I have been stopped at roadblocks. I have been treated like a common criminal, a common criminal and not as a leading contender in this country," he protested. Tsvangirai explained that he had withdrawn from Friday's run-off election, after finishing ahead of incumbent Robert Mugabe in the first round in March, in order to spare his supporters from violence and intimidation: "I cannot go to the state house over dead bodies and women's limbs having been chopped by axes and hacksaws. That is not the kind of political future we would like to create in the new Zimbabwe."


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