A horrible carbomb attack on a Shiite market in Baghdad was the lead on both CBS and NBC. ABC led with nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. Yet neither of these developments was the networks' Story of the Day. The Pentagon's anonymous accusations against Iran for fomenting violence in Iraq attracted most time on all three newscasts combined. Each network chose a radically different angle.

ABC bagged its Exclusive as Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer (subscription required) traveled to Teheran for a one-on-one with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He answered the Pentagon's accusations about exported Iranian weaponry killing as many as 170 GIs: "You are showing us pieces of paper and calling them documents…there should be a court to prove the case." He explained why Iranian troops would not get involved: "We are opposed to the presence of foreign forces in Iraq." And he promised not to fuel the conflict there: "Insecurity in Iraq is to our disadvantage."

From the Pentagon. CBS' David Martin detailed the specifics of the involvement in Iraq that Ahmadinejad refused to confirm. He showed us animation that depicts how the "sophisticated killing device" works: an explosion pushes out the concave lids of the bombs, transforming them in midair into an armor-piercing "molten slug." His network's in-house Iran expert Reza Aslan told him that exporting the bombs is Teheran's technique of initiating diplomacy: "If you want us to stop, let's talk."

NBC's Andrea Mitchell called it a "highly unusual step" that the US military officials in Baghdad who made the accusations against Iran "would not give their names." She reminded us of the National Intelligence Estimate finding that "Iran's influence was not a major driver of violence" in Iraq. "Is the administration trying to provoke a confrontation with Iran?" Mitchell mused. Her unnamed sources "acknowledged that the evidence is at best circumstantial."


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