CBS Evening News failed to cover Webb amendment on troop deployment

CBS Evening News failed to cover Webb amendment on troop deployment

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

The September 19 editions of ABC's World News and NBC's Nightly News both reported on Senate Republicans' blocking of a Democratic amendment stipulating that U.S. troops could be redeployed only after receiving home leave equal in duration to their most recent combat deployment, but that evening's edition of the CBS Evening News did not.

The September 19 edition of the CBS Evening News did not devote any time to Senate Republicans' blocking of a Democratic amendment that would have stipulated that U.S. troops could be redeployed only after receiving home leave equal in duration to their most recent combat deployment. By contrast, the September 19 editions of ABC's World News and NBC's Nightly News both reported on the blocked amendment.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) sponsored the amendment to the Defense Department appropriations bill, which required "minimum periods between deployment for units and members of the armed forces deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom." On September 19, 56 senators -- including all Democratic members -- voted in favor of the measure, while 44 voted against. However, due to Republicans' earlier demand that all Senate amendments relating to Iraq meet a 60-vote threshold, the amendment failed to pass.

On NBC's Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams asserted, "Republicans in the Senate tonight blocked a bill that would have given U.S. troops more time at home between deployments. It was seen as a Democratic attempt to challenge the president's war policy."

On ABC's World News, anchor Charles Gibson conducted a brief interview with correspondent Jake Tapper about the blocked amendment. Gibson led off the interview by asking, "Democrats did think this was their best shot, to -- to sort of force the president's hand to withdraw the number of troops. How did they do?"

While the September 19 Evening News did not report on the Webb amendment, CBS did devote 3 minutes and 56 seconds of airtime to separate reports on O.J. Simpson's release from jail and his personal finances, and an additional 3 minutes to a report on bear sightings in residential neighborhoods.

Additionally, on the September 20 edition of CBS' The Early Show, news anchor Russ Mitchell stated that the amendment "fell short by four votes," but he did not inform viewers that the measure was supported by a majority of the Senate -- including every Democrat -- and failed only because of the Republican demand that such measures receive 60 votes to pass. On the September 20 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, news anchor Chris Cuomo similarly reported "the Senate has rejected" the amendment without noting that a minority of senators -- all of whom are Republicans except for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who also voted against the Webb amendment -- blocked it. Further, on the September 20 edition of NBC's Today, news anchor Ann Curry reported that "[t]he Senate failed" to advance the measure.

From the September 20 edition of CBS' The Early Show:

MITCHELL: Another Democratic attempt to force a change of course in Iraq has failed. A Senate proposal requiring U.S. troops to get as much time at home as they spend overseas fell short by four votes.

From the September 20 edition of NBC's Today:

ANN CURRY (news anchor): The Senate failed on Wednesday to advance a bill challenging the president's policy on Iraq. The bill would have required that troops be given as much time at home as they had spent in Iraq or Afghanistan before being redeployed.

From the September 20 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

CHRIS CUOMO (co-anchor): In Washington, the Senate has rejected a bill regulating how much time troops spend in combat. The bill would've required troops to get as much time on home leave as they spend deployed. This was considered the best chance for Democrats -- and some Republicans -- to challenge the president's war plan.

From the September 19 edition of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:

CHARLES GIBSON (anchor): Well, we're going to go to Capitol Hill next. The Senate voted late this evening on a Democratic proposal to require the troops returning from war, have as much time at home as they spent in Iraq -- before they're sent back. The National Guard and reserve would have had three years. Democrats felt the measure supported the troops, but also would have forced a drawdown in the number of troops in Iraq. Jake Tapper is on Capitol Hill. Democrats did think this was their best shot, to -- to sort of force the president's hand to withdraw the number of troops. How did they do?

JAKE TAPPER (ABC senior national correspondent): Well they lost, and they lost 56 to 44, they needed 60 votes, and what's significant is they lost by the same margin of defeat that they lost when this measure came up in July. Indicating that for now, at least, it appears that the Republicans in the Senate have stemmed the erosion of support for the president's policy.

GIBSON: Well Jake, both you and [This Week host] George Stephanopoulos have talked about the fact the Democrats thought they had a chance to turn more Republicans on this issue. Why didn't they?

TAPPER: Two words: General Petraeus. His testimony last week, President Bush was very wise to make him the front-and-center point man, and David Petraeus has a lot of credibility with wavering Republican senators up here, and when he asked for more time for the surge to work and pointed to limited progress -- not overselling it, but limited progress on the ground in Iraq -- that convinced enough wavering Republicans to give the general what he was asking for.

GIBSON: And very quickly, did Democrats then pull back now on all attempts to force troop reductions?

TAPPER: It's unclear right now. There are still two big troop withdraw bills with timelines for U.S. troop withdrawal, but those also would be headed for defeat if they couldn't get 60 votes for this bill -- it seems very unlikely they'll be able to get 60 votes for those others, because Republicans are just not coming on board, not right now, at least, not yet.

GIBSON: All right, Jake Tapper on Capitol Hill, thanks to you as well.

From the September 19 edition of NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams:

BRIAN WILLIAMS (anchor): NBC News "In Depth" tonight: the war in Iraq. Republicans in the Senate tonight blocked a bill that would have given U.S. troops more time at home between deployments. It was seen as a Democratic attempt to challenge the president's war policy.

Meanwhile, the dispute continues over who fired first in a violent incident in Iraq. Tonight, Iraq's prime minister says the American contractor Blackwater USA is dead wrong about what happened in a weekend shootout. [Correspondent] Jim Maceda is in Baghdad for us tonight.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Military Personnel & Veterans
Network/Outlet
CBS
Show/Publication
CBS Evening News
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