- Nightline's Transparent Obscene Stunt
NIGHTLINE'S TRANSPARENT STUNT|
April 30, 2004 -- Tonight, ABC's "Nightline" will do something unique: It will use its entire program to show the name and face of each U.S. service member killed in Iraq, including those who died in accidents and other non-combat situations.
There's nothing inherently wrong with this. Done right, it could serve as a moving tribute to those young Americans who have died in the War on Terror.
But, as "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel has said, "It's the context, how those [pictures] are used that's important."
And that's where our doubts reside.
Koppel and his producers admit that they mean to create a video version of a now-famous 1969 issue of Life magazine, which was devoted entirely to running the photos of all U.S. soldiers killed during one week's combat in Vietnam.
That issue was a turning point in galvanizing Americans against the war.
Which is one reason why we're frankly skeptical about the folks at ABC and their motives - and why we agree with William Kristol of The Weekly Standard that "this is a Statement, with a capital S, and it's a stupid statement."
Like that long-ago issue of Life, it suggests that only those who oppose the war understand that behind the casualty statistics lie real young men and women.
"We wanted to show that the people killed are not a number," said "Nightline" producer Leroy Sievers. "They are individuals with faces . . ."
And that's patronizing.
As is another message embedded in the Koppel project: that the War on Terror is too costly. "If the motivation to go to war is . . . justifiable," the aging anchor has said, "then the cost, whether it is 500 or 5,000 or 50,000 [lives] is something people will accept. Should the motivation not be good, then five is too many."
Both Koppel and "Nightline" have made their positions very clear.
Just a few nights ago, Koppel scolded President Bush for allowing a few fleeting images from Ground Zero to be used in one of his campaign ads - then ran a clip from the commercial in which the president is seen saying, "I'm George W. Bush, and I approved this message."
When polls showed a vast majority of Americans believing that news reporting from Iraq was too negative, Koppel blamed the White House - demanding that Bush "level with the American people about what is going wrong, and then they and we will have a much easier time believing the good news when it occurs.
"When the administration starts dealing forthrightly with those issues," he said, "the good news will speak for itself."
A recent "Nightline" profile of a U.S. soldier taken hostage in Iraq concluded: "Tonight, his family must be wishing the president had left the job of liberating Iraq to someone else."
Honoring the troops by humanizing them and emphasizing the dangers they face and the sacrifices they've made should only be encouraged.
Using them as pawns to further a political agenda simply is obscene.
Submitted by Frank Y.