December 08, 2004

A little perspective is necessary

Apparently, Dan Rather has added a new feature at the CBS Evening News where he profiles each day a soldier or marine killed in the Iraq Campaign. I say apparently since I haven't watched the CBS Evening News since approximately 1983 when I was in high school. But supposedly he is now up to 140.

Each and every casualty is a tragedy and a loss to the Nation. CBS claims it is doing this "to honor American servicemen" while we all know their motivation is to undermine American support for the war effort, as they did after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.

The perspective point however is this: if in some strange Harry Turtledove universe the CBS Evening News had started this feature after the end of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863 of featuring a story about each casualty of the Battle per night, they would have finished.......

Actually, they wouldn't have finished yet: they would still have about eighteen years and six months to go, finishing in approximately June of 2023.

Assume CBS Evening News broadcasts 313 nights a year (six days a week for 52 weeks), and assume over the years there would be a certain number of nights with no CBS Evening News for specials---you know, Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic, the Titanic sinking, McKinley getting shot, the over-heated round the clock coverage of the Supreme Court deciding the election of 1876, the brouhaha of the unfortunate Elizabeth Cady Stanton "wardrobe malfunction" at the special Suffragette half-time show, the sympathetic coverage of the "insurgency" resisting the Union occupation of the South etc., balanced off with the extra broadcast every four years for leap year (except when leap year fell on a Sunday, in which there would be no CBS Evening News). That gives you approximately 44,133 editions of the CBS evening news.

Given the generally accepted consensus of approximately 50,000 casualties (which includes killed, missing, and wounded), roughly 5,867 profiles would be left undone at the present.

At the rate of 313 broadcasts per year, that would leave another 18.7 years to go, or to roughly mid-June, 2023.

Posted by Steve at December 8, 2004 01:22 PM

I'll admit I've seen this only a few times (I'm an NBC girl), so I may have seen anomalous ones, but the profiles I've seen have been quite good. A bit about the person's life, how he (only seen guys) died, and something about how he went because he wanted to make the world a better place / was dedicated to helping Iraqi children / something else laudable and not in the least anti-Iraq-war (or, I suppose, Afghanistan, if they're doing those too).

Posted by: Adrianne Truett at December 8, 2004 05:04 PM

Yes, the profiles seem to be well done and positive representations of the lives of the soldiers. And they say, "Look at all the good people who are dying just for..... what?"

Perhaps if they included a profile of one of the 50,000 or so Iraqi children who *didn't* die from Saddam's FfO program because he is gone, there would be some balance in the reports... oops - wrong netword... er,..medium.

Posted by: Claire at December 10, 2004 11:06 AM

Everyone knows that the best way to honor those who have died in combat is to completely ignore them. If you close your eyes tight enough, you can pretend that all 1,200 just fell asleep one night and didn't wake up.

And perhaps if they included a profile of one of the 100,000 or so Iraqi men, women AND children that have died...

Posted by: drew at December 10, 2004 02:36 PM
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