Dec 13 2011

CBS Revises Iraq Death Toll

New tally still lower than other estimates

After a FAIR Action Alert (12/2/11), the CBS Evening News has changed its count of civilian deaths–citing a new figure that is roughly twice their original count. On December 1 the CBS Evening News reported: It is estimated that more than 50,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in the war. As FAIR pointed out, this was totally inadequate–even the source for the network’s claim (iCasualties.org) warned that this was not a comprehensive count. On December 12, CBS anchor Scott Pelley closed a segment about “how life has changed inside Iraq” with this: We looked into the human toll of the Iraq […]

Dec 2 2011

CBS Undercounts Iraqi Deaths

Rewriting Iraq War history

A December 1 CBS Evening News report about the Iraq War managed to mislead viewers about the start of the war and severely diminish the loss of civilian lives. Reporting on the handover of the U.S. military headquarters to Iraqi forces, anchor Scott Pelley announced: What began in 2003 as an effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein became a vicious religious war, pitting Iraqi against Iraqi–with the U.S. caught in the middle. Of course, the United States invaded Iraq with the stated aim of disarming Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, which did not exist. (“The opening stages of the disarmament of […]

Apr 1 2010

Will Face the Nation Factcheck Guest’s Healthcare Lies?

CBS's Schieffer owes TV audience the truth

CBS‘s Face the Nation (3/28/10) covered the passage of healthcare reform by inviting Democratic National Committee chair Tim Kaine and two Republican critics on the program–one of whom spread misinformation that went unchallenged by host Bob Schieffer. What’s notable about this is that CBS has since posted on its website a debunking of the two claims made by the guest, conservative Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota. At the very beginning of the interview, Bachmann explained her opposition to the new healthcare law: “Now we have the federal government, Bob, taking over ownership or control of 51 percent of the […]

May 12 2009

CBS Pro-Drone Propaganda

60 Minutes slights critics of controversial weapons

On May 10, CBS‘s 60 Minutes presented a remarkably one-sided report on unmanned Air Force drones firing missiles into Afghanistan and Iraq. Though the drones have been criticized for killing civilians in both countries, CBS viewers heard from no critics of the weapons. Instead, correspondent Lara Logan seemed awed by the drones from the very start of the broadcast: “Every so often in the history of war, a new weapon comes along that fundamentally rewrites the rules of battle. This is a story about a revolution in unmanned aviation that is doing just that.” She described the drones as “hunting […]

Mar 1 2008

Saddam’s ‘Secret’

Hussein told CBS about WMDs--but CBS wasn't watching

Of all the strange stories to come out of the media’s debacle in Iraq, one of the most Orwellian is the fable in which Saddam Hussein tricked America into invading Iraq by making us believe that he had weapons of mass destruction (Extra!, 1-2/04, 5-6/04). Of all the lies, hypocrisies and half-truths of this war, this one may be the most extravagant: a falsehood whose speciousness doesn’t even require any checking–at least for anyone whose memory goes back earlier than March 2003. The latest incarnation of this story appeared in January, when CBS‘s 60 Minutes (1/27/08) aired an interview with […]

Feb 1 2008

The ‘Great Mystery’ of Iraq’s WMDs?

CBS ignores evidence from its own show

A January 27 report on CBS‘s 60 Minutes attempted to answer what CBS reporter Scott Pelley claimed was a key mystery of the Iraq War: Why didn’t Saddam Hussein tell the world he had no weapons of mass destruction, and thus avoid the U.S.-led invasion? But if Pelley had been watching his own network’s exclusive interview with Hussein on the eve of the war, he would have known that Hussein did exactly that. “For a man who drew America into two wars and countless military engagements, we never really knew what Saddam Hussein was thinking,” Pelley declared at the opening […]

Mar 1 2005

‘The World Little Noted’

CBS scandal eclipses missing WMDs

There was much journalistic hand-wringing and finger-pointing during the week of January 10, after CBS News’ official report on its dubious story on George W. Bush’s Vietnam-era service record. (See Extra! Update, 2/05.) But another story released that week suggests that media self-criticism has its limits—especially when the press’s failures involve being too credulous rather than too critical. The final announcement that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq came on January 12, two days after the CBS report was released. The official evaporation of the Bush administration’s chief rationale for a war that has killed more than […]

Jul 1 1993

Pseudo-Science at CBS

Bibilical specials trade credibility for ratings

The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark

The use of prime-time TV to sell the public a bill of goods hit a new low a little over a year ago, when, on May 15, 1992, CBS aired a two-hour primetime special called Ancient Secrets of the Bible. Produced by David W. Balsiger, the program claimed to present “startling and surprising evidence” to validate biblical stories viewed by many as myths. Ancient Secrets of the Bible reportedly did well in the ratings, and CBS has since aired two more Balsiger pieces, The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark (2/20/93) and Ancient Secrets of the Bible II (5/15/93). Each program […]