COMMENTS: Afghanistan is not Female Friendly

All three newscasts filed an Afghanistan story, although none actually carried an Afghanistan dateline. On ABC, anchor Diane Sawyer publicized the work of the Grossman Burn Foundation in California, where a 12-year-old child bride awaits free plastic surgery to restore her mutilated nose and ears. This was Sawyer's third report on Bebe (they met in March and the girl traveled to California in August). The new news is that Bebe now glues a Hollywood special effects prosthetic nose on her face each morning.

Bebe "became an emblem of brutality," Sawyer reminded us, when TIME put her picture on the cover to warn us what could happen to the women and girls of Afghanistan if the United States ended its war on behalf of Hamid Karzai's government. CBS anchor Katie Couric made a similar argument from a Kabul women's shelter six weeks ago. The flaw in that logic is that Bebe was not abused when the Taliban was in power but under the current US-supported government. Furthermore, Sawyer told us, Bebe is a Farsi speaker--so her torturing in-laws cannot have been Pashtun Taliban.

The other woman to meet a horrible fate in Afghanistan was Linda Norgrove, a 36-year-old British aid worker. CBS' Elizabeth Palmer and NBC's Michelle Kosinski both reported on Norgrove's fate from London. She had been kidnapped two weeks ago in Kunar Province and American special forces tried to rescue her last weekend. She was killed, apparently by a hand grenade thrown by the commandos during their nighttime raid. All three newscasts (NBC's Tom Aspell and ABC's Nick Schifrin in Afghanistan; CBS' Jim Axelrod narrating from New York) covered the murder of ten Christian aid workers in Badakhshan last August.

By the way, this was Kosinski's first Nightly News report from London since she was moved from NBC's Miami bureau. Chris Ariens at TVNewser reports that Kosinski will be replaced by Lilia Luciano from TeleFutura. A review of Kosinski's playlist over the past four years reveals how NBC uses its Miami bureau not only for its domestic coverage along the Gulf Coast but also as a base for its foreign coverage of the Americas--stories such as the Haiti earthquake, the Natalee Holloway case in Aruba, the H1N1 swine 'flu outbreak in Mexico and hurricane season in the Caribbean. So in a way, Kosinski has not switched from a domestic beat to a foreign one, but from Latin to Euro.


You must be logged in to this website to leave a comment. Please click here to log in so you can participate in the discussion.