COMMENTS: Kabul Dreams

ABC aired the second of its limited-commercial newscasts, which are scheduled for each Monday of April. Unlike last week when its rundown consisted of its normal seven packages plus one extra-long feature, this time ABC made use of its extra editorial time by making several of its packages longer than average while retaining the normal story count. Thus its lead, a survey by Diane Sawyer from Paktia province in Afghanistan of US preparations for the Taliban's spring offensive, was longer than usual.

Sawyer received a briefing from Gen David Rodriguez about what to expect when the snow melts and the fighting season starts. Sawyer asked whether he believed Taliban claims that they have 6,000 guerrillas and 1,000 suicide bombers poised to attack. "Half that," Rodriguez replied. Sawyer also listened to President Hamid Karzai's complaints that his country's reconstruction had been underfunded compared with Iraq's, at four times less per person. If Kabul had received the same cash as Baghdad, "it would be like heaven here," Sawyer quoted Karzai as dreaming. None of the other two networks filed from Afghanistan, although Lara Logan covered fighting by British-led NATO troops there for CBS last Thursday.


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