‘Deadliest Day’ in Afghanistan? Not by a Long Shot

August 6, 2011, when 38 soldiers, including 30 U.S. troops, were killed when their helicopter was shot down, was the “deadliest day” of the Afghan War, several media outlets told us:

  • David Muir (ABC World News Saturday, 8/6/11): “It was the deadliest day of the war in Afghanistan, 30 Americans, 22 Navy SEALs lost.”
  • David Gregory (NBC Meet the Press, 8/7/11): “This was the single deadliest day of the war.”
  • Chicago Tribune headline (8/7/11): “Taliban Says It Downed Copter in Deadliest Day of War in Afghanistan”
  • ABC This Week graphic (8/7/11): “DEADLIEST DAY IN AFGHANISTAN”
  • Terrell Brown, CBS Morning News (8/8/11): “America mourns the loss of 30 warriors killed in Afghanistan on the war’s deadliest day.”
  • AP (8/9/11): “Troops killed in the deadliest day of the Afghan War are coming home today.”

But, of course, it wasn’t the war’s deadliest day–that unhappy distinction goes to May 4, 2009, when the U.S. military attacked the village of Granai, killing 140 people, 93 of them children, according to an Afghan government investigation (Reuters, 5/16/09). (The U.S. government says it does not know how many people it killed that day.)

Other deadlier days in Afghanistan include July 6, 2008, when U.S. bombing killed 47 civilians, including 39 women and children, attending a wedding in Nangarhar province (Guardian, 7/11/08); August 22, 2008, when a U.S. airstrike killed at least 90 civilians, including 60 children, in the village of Azizabad (UN News Centre, 8/26/08); and July 23, 2010, when the U.S. killed 39 civilians in the village of Sangin (RTTNews, 8/5/10).

To be sure, many U.S. news reports, unlike those cited above, remembered to add “for Americans” to their descriptions of August 6 as the “deadliest day.” But there’s little evidence that anyone in U.S. media remembers the village of Granai.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.