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May 20, 2004 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Where's Thursday, May 6 ? - Nightline "disappears" show segment - OK, I've waited almost 2 weeks. Now, it's official - Nightline "disappeared" it's own show. On Thursday May 6, 2004, Nightline featured, prominently, a call for a phased US pullout from Iraq by Retired Lieutenant General, William Odom - Ronald Reagan's head of the National Security Agency. Odom recommended turning the whole mess over to the UN. Mention of Odom or the segment is kind of hard to pry out of ABC . You can buy a transcript though, so this isn't really censorship, right?...........
posted by troutfishing (9 comments total)

 
Busted.

So..... where do the networks get the rights to all that juicy broadcast bandwidth ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:32 AM on May 20, 2004


I'm on it, troutfishing.

Episode description (cached here).
posted by mcgraw at 9:02 AM on May 20, 2004


May 3rd is gone too!

Although to be honest, if they wanted to squelch the Nightlines that are negative about the war on Iraq, they would need to delete the last month's worth.
posted by smackfu at 9:06 AM on May 20, 2004


mcgraw - you go.

smackfu - Yeah, of course - in a sense this self censorship is ridiculous.....

But for a few key points :

1) Very few with credentials and wide visibility were calling for a pullout prior to May 6th.

2) Odom is probably the most highly credentialed person from the US right or center-right to make such a call.



The editor of Editor and Publisher Magazine picked up on Odom's call and rebroadcast it as a blunt challenge to major American newsaper publishers - to agree or disagree but, in either case, at least offer some sort of solution to the Iraq quagmire.

Here is a bit of Mitchell's remarkable challenge (now for-pay only - except for the miracle of Google cache) :

"When Will the First Major Newspaper Call for a Pullout in Iraq?

The once unthinkable suddenly becomes thinkable.

By Greg Mitchell

.......what do American newspapers have to say?

So far, not very much, at least in terms of advising our leaders how to clean up or get out of this mess......

The two candidates also seem to agree that sending more U.S. troops to Iraq might turn the tide. Most newspapers like that idea, too. Last month an E&P survey revealed that the vast majority of America's large newspapers favored this approach to Iraq: Stay the course.

......are newspaper editorial pages ready to sustain that position now? And if that means calling for more troops, or remaining in Iraq at present levels indefinitely, are they willing to accept responsibility...?

This, of course, must also be considered in the context of whatever other responsibility newspapers share for embracing the dubious pre-war claims on weapons of mass destruction and endorsing the invasion in the first place. In fact, one might argue that the press has a special responsibility for helping undo the damage. [ emphasis mine ]

In a remarkable episode of ABC's "Nightline" last night, retired Army Lt. General William Odom, director of the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration, called for a phased U.S. pullout from Iraq over the next six to nine months. And yet no major newspaper has explored this idea.

That is not to say that calling for a U.S. pullout from Iraq is the only moral, rational or political choice. But if newspaper editors are not going to endorse that -- then what is YOUR solution?

......what really got me to thinking the unthinkable -- a phased U.S. pullout from Iraq -- was a letter that Bill Mitchell (no relation) of Atascadero, Calif. wrote to his son's former commanding officer in Iraq. His son, Army SSG Mike Mitchell, was killed in Iraq in early April, as I documented in a news story last week.

In that letter, Bill wrote about the "irony" that his son "was killed by the very people that he was liberating. This is insanity!!!" He added: "I am having a major problem with being OK with his death under these circumstances and I really do not believe that Iraq, the world, or the lives of his family and friends are better due to his death." Imagine the pain behind those lines.

Steve Chapman, in a Chicago Tribune column last weekend, played a cruel game of logic. He applied it to Sen. Kerry's position on the war but he could have been referring to the editorial positions of most American newspapers.

Chapman summed up the "stay the course" predicament like this: "We can't manage an increasingly turbulent Iraq with the forces we have. We don't have many extra troops to send. We can't turn over security to Iraqis because they can't be trusted. We can't get other countries to help us out. And things keep getting worse."

Yet, he pointed out, "Democrats and Republicans agree that we have to go on squandering American lives because we don't know what else to do."

So what do the editors of American newspapers think we should do?

Are you ready, now, to think the unthinkable? Who will be the first in line to call for a phased withdrawal, not more troops? As with Vietnam, one brave voice (remember Walter Cronkite on Feb. 27, 1968) may inspire others.

And if that isn't your position -- what exactly is it? Editors, send any comments here, and we will post them in this space next week"

This was a truly remarkable (and highly charged) editorial about a remarkable show segment.

And the upshot? -

Well, Mitchell got his "one courageous man" - only one, but a big one indeed : Al Neuharth.

So, this "disappeared segment" post of mine is really just a notable hook into this larger story and amounted to, really, a sleazy but fairly feeble attempt to hamper the discourse. But, like so much of what is issuing from the Washington power establishemnt recently - it failed miserably.
posted by troutfishing at 9:45 AM on May 20, 2004


And, I would have used spellcheck - but for the circling fins of a "J-run server error" message.
posted by troutfishing at 9:48 AM on May 20, 2004


And here is the transcript!

Many thanks to ___ - who reads Metafilter regularly but can't get an account. Here is ___'s remark :

"As a professional media analyst, I'm not sure if I agree with your comment that ABC is deliberately "censoring" the segment. Online versions of print and broadcast media outlets most often do not publish full content contained in the original newspaper or segment- editors select content and put it online to appeal to a different audience. ......I can't say to what degree Nightline engages in this practice, but there are very few news websites with a print or broadcast counterpart who do make full content available. However, your point about choosing content selectively based on political sensitivity and advertiser-friendliness is well-taken."

To which I'd have to reply (after effusive thanks for access to the actual transcript) - Is selective omission censorship?

The remarkable surrounding context - Greg Mitchell's call for one honest (or courageous) major newspaper editor, hot on the heels of Odom's appearance on "Nightline" and followed Al Neuharth's subsequent rise to the challenge - makes the May 6th segment especially noteworthy. Hence, I'd make the judgement call to proclaim this selective omission of any mention of that segment, on Nightline's primary website page, to be censorship.

This is, of course, impossible to prove. I just am asserting that it smells, although - as smackfu has pointed out - the "recent show" archive on the Nightline front web page is not completely continuous. Monday, May 3 is missing as well.

But, that segment was ALSO a bit contentious :

"ABC NEWS - Show: NIGHTLINE

Broadcast Date: Monday - May 3, 2004

Program Subject: CONDUCT UNBECOMING

Guests: LIEUTENANT COLONEL NEAL PUCKETT (ATTORNEY), TED CONOVER (AUTHOR), FORMER IRAQI PRISONER (MALE), LOCAL RESIDENT (MALE), SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (REPUBLICAN, ARIZONA), ANNOUNCER, DAN SENOR (COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY), BRIGADIER GENERAL JANIS KARPINSKI (800TH MILITARY POLICE BRIGADE), BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT (COALITION DEPUTY DIRECTOR), SCOTT SILLIMAN (DUKE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW), GARY MYERS (CIVILIAN DEFENSE LAWYER), CHRIS BURY (ABC NEWS), JOHN DONVAN (ABC NEWS), MARTHA RADDATZ (ABC NEWS), TONY CORDESMAN (ABC NEWS), GENERAL RICHARD MYERS (CHAIRMAN JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF), PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH (UNITED STATES)

Anchor: CHRIS BURY

Length: 29 minutes 29 seconds"
posted by troutfishing at 10:30 AM on May 20, 2004


Please. "Censorship." That should be the catchphrase for a new Godwin's Law.
posted by davidmsc at 4:38 PM on May 20, 2004


And, like Godwin's Law, there will always be fools who try and stop legitamate accusations under abuse of this catch-all phrase. If selectively choosing your broadcasts based on political ideology (or rather, overt political sensitivity) is not censorship, please explain what exactly is.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:51 AM on May 21, 2004


All mention of "censorship" is hereby prohibited.

Go home, citizens. There is nothing left for you to see here.
posted by troutfishing at 10:00 PM on May 22, 2004


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