NBC Reporter Waves the White Flag: ‘Time to Start Leaving’ Afghanistan

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on October 14, 2009

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-Read the excerpt below from Tim Graham's October 12th post at Newsbusters.org.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

In 2006, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz found that NBC correspondent Richard Engel had strong…feelings: “I think war should be illegal…I’m basically a pacifist.” That pacifist opinion is still surfacing, Kurtz reported Monday…:

Richard Engel, NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, has kicked up a fuss with some decidedly pessimistic comments on the war in Afghanistan.

“I honestly think it’s probably time to start leaving the country. I really don’t see how this is going to end in anything but tears,” Engel said last week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” He added: “The idea of going in to nation-build and win hearts and minds, I think, over the long term is kind of a loser.”

That sounds awfully opinionated for a working reporter, but Engel says in an interview that he wasn’t “taking sides. If it came across that I was giving my opinion or advocating one particular policy or another, I was just trying to reflect what I’m seeing on the ground….A lot of Afghans tell me that over the long term there can’t be a military solution to this.”

But if a reporter is a pacifist, does he really need to take an unscientific survey of the locals to declare there are no military solutions? There’s more:

Engel, who recently returned from Kabul and is going back Tuesday, says he’s “not a military commander” and that it is probably necessary to beef up U.S. forces in the short term. But, he says, “the idea of sending in more troops for a population that isn’t asking for protection just seems problematic.”

Jon Banner, executive producer of ABC’s “World News,” takes issue with Engel’s remarks: “The audience has to be convinced that our reporters are objective and unbiased, and I’d be concerned that expressing a personal opinion dilutes that, or worse.”

Read the original post at Newsbusters.org.

Questions

1.  How did Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post and Jon Banner of ABC’s World News react to NBC reporter Richard Engel’s defense of his remarks on Afghanistan in which he said they were only a description of what people in Afghanistan are feeling?

2.  What do you think of Richard Engel’s remarks about Afghanistan?  Explain your answer.


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1.  Reacting to NBC reporter Richard Engel’s remarks on Afghanistan, both men expressed doubt over Engle’s explanation that he was not expressing his opinion. 
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post said “That sounds awfully opinionated for a working reporter,” and Jon Banner of ABC’s World News said “The audience has to be convinced that our reporters are objective and unbiased, and I’d be concerned that expressing a personal opinion dilutes that, or worse.”

2.  Opinion question. Answers vary.