The dead matter
The dead matter
On 'Nightline,' a Grim Sweeps Roll Call
By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, April 28, 2004; Page C01
ABC News's "Nightline" will devote its entire broadcast on Friday to reading the names of the more than 500 U.S. servicemen and servicewomen who have been killed in action in Iraq.
As anchor Ted Koppel reads the names for the entire half-hour, viewers will see photographs of those killed since March 19, 2003, as certified by the Defense Department.
In its announcement yesterday, ABC News said the program was its way of paying tribute to the dead. And "Nightline" executive producer Leroy Sievers called it the program's way to "remind our viewers -- whether they agree with the war or not -- that beyond the casualty numbers, these men and women are serving in Iraq in our names, and that those who have been killed have names and faces."
That is good to know because otherwise we might be left thinking that Friday's broadcast, which ABC will simulcast on its Jumbotron in New York's Times Square, is a cheap, content-free stunt designed to tug at our heartstrings and bag a big number on the second night of the May ratings race
Atrios mentioned that the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which owns several ABC affliates, is refusing to air this broadcast because they think it's a political stunt to undermine Bush.
I would suggest that you call them to ask why honoring American war dead is beyond them. It would especially help if you were a veteran. Also, don't be shy, if you're a member of a veteran's organization, let them know that these people would rather air a sitcom rerun than remember those who died for this country in combat. I'm sure they'll be airing stories on the new WWII memorial on the Mall. So why don't those who died in Iraq deserve the same respect and honor as those who died in other American wars?
Here's the list to contact the Sinclair stations which Atrios dug up:
Contact the Sinclair Broadcast Group at 410-568-1500 and ask them why they refuse to acknowledge those who have served this country honorably.
You can also contact your local affiliate:
WXLV, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point NC 336-274-484
WEAR, Pensacola 850-456-3333
KDNL, St. Louis
WSYX, Columbus OH 614-481-6666
WLOS, Asheville NC 828-684-1340
WCHS, Charleston, Huntington W VA 304-346-5358
WGGB, Springfield MA (413) 733-4040
WTXL, Tallahassee (850)893-4140
Be polite with them - recognize that it isn't their decision but you're nonetheless calling to voice your objection
Now, some of you have a point, maybe I do watch too much TV. But not as much as Lisa de Moraes, who also deserves a few e-mails for her unrelenting cynicism.
So, it would be a good idea to air the show about the dead on Memorial Day? When no one is watching and is sitting around drunk and well fed?
I think the idea is "not to tug on our heartstrings", but to remind the country of the cost of war at a time people may actually watch. I guess she's not watching the news every night to see a glimpse of her relatives in Iraq. It's only content-free when you don't have to see someone you know name being read. Otherwise, it's about all you will ever need to know about the Iraq war.
What doesn't surprise me is her complete cluelessnes about the topic. I hope ABC gets landmark ratings for this, although they won't. I would want them to air it during sweeps so people can see it. They should get as much publicity as possible for this, so people can at least see the names of the dead who didn't play for the NFL.
There has been no complete reading of the names of the dead in the media. If Nightline wants to sell Levitra while doing so, it's still a public service.
I don't think the Beltway crowd gets it. For many Americans, watching the news is hellish because they don't know if they'll see their relatives wounded or in combat. It's a frightening thing for many families. That machine gunner blasting away at unseen Iraqi positions is someone's son. That guy climbing out of a tank with a bloody face has a mother who had to see that.
The news is only news for those of us who don't have someone in Iraq. For those that do, it's a combination of expectation and horror.
It's easy to be cynical and snide about ABC's motives if we're not talking about your family.
I think it might serve as some small comfort to have your child's sacrifice noted by someone besides your family and local newspaper, regardless of the motives. After all, they're not coming back from the dead. A night of remembering the dead can't hurt, even if the motives are less than pure.
posted by Steve @ 1:28:00 PM