COMMENTS: More Reed Brass Ousted

A very light day of news contained only one story that was newsworthy enough to warrant coverage on all three nightly newscasts. It was the next step in the continuing fallout from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center: the hospital's former commander was ousted from his job as Surgeon General of the Army. CBS led with Gen Kevin Kiley's departure. ABC and NBC led with the rising price of gasoline.

The medical plight of combat casualties on the homefront attracted more attention than the war itself. All three Pentagon correspondents covered Kiley's ouster. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski consulted his unnamed sources: "Kiley sealed his fate when he appeared to play down decrepit conditions" at the hospital's out-patient quarters. Defense Secretary Robert Gates "had Kiley in mind," CBS' David Martin remarked, "when he delivered a scathing public rebuke of the army." ABC did not file a full report: in a brief stand-up Jonathan Karl (no link) observed that the Walter Reed scandal had now forced out more high-ranking army officials than "even abu-Ghraib."

On NBC, Robert Bazell followed up with statistics on mentally ill combat veterans: almost one third of all Veterans Administration patients were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or some other psychiatric problem. Bazell theorized that repeated attacks from roadside bombs, so-called Improvised Explosive Devices, are more likely to drive a soldier mad than the battles of previous wars.


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