So you're an American news station. There are 140,000 citizens still engaged in forward action 10,000 miles from home. Hundreds of thousands of family members and friends wait expectantly for news from the front. The top commanders still consider security gains fragile and make pains to tell everyone that the fight is not over and can easily be reversed.
The result? Time to leave.
Quietly, as the United States presidential election and its aftermath have dominated the news, America’s three broadcast network news divisions have stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq.
“The war has gone on longer than a lot of news organizations’ ability or appetite to cover it,” said Jane Arraf, a former Baghdad bureau chief for CNN who has remained in Iraq as a contract reporter for The Christian Science Monitor.
The less coverage there is of the occupation, the less politicians feel the need to address it, the more official sources are relied upon to shape public opinion. The reluctance on the part of top Democrats to challenge the narrative of the Iraq war leads to this disengagement. This is why nobody knows about the SOFA agreement mandating withdrawals by the end of 2011 and removal from the major cities by June. Instead we hear the "official story" that commanders will leave depending on conditions on the ground. And so Democratic inability to talk about the war threatens troops in the field, because this shiftiness from commanders ends up sowing distrust and anger from Iraqis.
Oh well, at least they're willing to engage on Afghanistan. I'm sure that'll mean the news orgs will move there.
Joseph Angotti, a former vice president of NBC News, said he could not recall any other time when all three major broadcast networks lacked correspondents in an active war zone that involved United States forces.
Except, of course, in Afghanistan, where about 30,000 Americans are stationed, and where until recently no American television network, broadcast or cable, maintained a full-time bureau.