A pair of different angles on the Iraq story vied for leadership of the news agenda. All three newscasts led with the Senate hearings into pre-war intelligence. The Defense Department's Inspector General told the Armed Services Committee that the CIA's skepticism about the threat Iraq posed had been manipulated by the Pentagon to advance the case for war. In Baghdad itself, military leadership is transferred from Gen George Casey to Gen David Petraeus. The current fighting received fractionally more coverage than the pre-war maneuvering so the war itself was Story of the Day.

Even though it contained little original content, ABC announced an Exclusive profile by Martha Raddatz of the departing Casey, promoted to Army Chief of Staff, after three years in command in Baghdad. "This has been a bit of a rollercoaster," Casey summarized. "Some peaks, some valleys--but overall, slow, steady, relentless progress." His greatest problem, Raddatz surprised no one, was the "spiraling sectarian violence."

NBC aired a couple of reports on this week's fighting. Richard Engel was traveling with a First Infantry patrol through Baghdad's Adel neighborhood when its HumVee was jolted by a mistimed bomb in roadside garbage but emerged unscathed. John Yang, at the Pentagon, followed up on his report on Wednesday on the downing of a USMC Sea Knight helicopter near Fallujah with jerky online videotape posted by an unidentified "group with ties to al-Qaeda" that purported to document the explosion and crash. And anchor Brian Williams' concluded his network's coverage of the celebrity circus surrounding the late Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith by contrasting her with Jennifer Parcell, aged 20, of the Marine Corps, killed in action in al-Anbar province.

CBS did not cover any aspect of the ongoing conflict in Iraq.


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