CNN Has The Best, Most Comprehensive TV Coverage of Mideast Conflict
CNN, using correspondents in both Beirut and Jerusalem, had frequent and up-to-the-minute reports, as the Israelis bombed the Beirut Airport, imposed a Naval blockade on Lebanon and also struck a Lebanese Army base on the Syrian border. Meanwhile, Hezbollah fired numerous rockets into Israel, hitting several towns, and threatening to strike the major city of Haifa.
CNN came back to the story every few minutes and also covered live a news conference by President Bush in Germany, at which the President generally backed Israel but urged restraint. Fox also covered the Bush news conference and it had a few more interviews with outside observers than CNN.
The regular news networks also led their 7 a.m. news broadcasts with developments in the Middle East, although NBC's Today program was somewhat handicapped by the absence of anchor Matt Lauer, who was in St. Petersburg to cover the G-8 summit. Also, it appeared that at 8 a.m. NBC had no special West Coast broadcast, using a canned beginning that did not even refer to the striking news developments.
Meanwhile, both the L.A. Times and New York Times provided comprehensive coverage in this morning's papers of the developments yesterday, which saw the kidnapping of two more Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah and the beginnings of an Israeli incursion into Lebanon as well as bombing raids. The L.A. Times, with its time advantage, also was able to get in word of the first Israeli air strike on the Beirut Airport, and also the Hezbollah rocket attacks in the north of Israel. Since Times foreign editor Marjorie Miller was once the Times correspondent in Jerusalem, the Times really has a leg up in Middle East coverage.
Perusing the Internet, the Web site of the Jerusalem Post was ahead of even CNN, reporting first, for example, the casualties in northern Israeli towns under Hezbollah rocket attack, and then updating the initial reports with new casualty figures. The Israeli newspaper was running an hour ahead of everyone else on this phase of the battle.
The New York Times web site was keeping well up, as it usually does, with the developments, but the L.A. Times web site, as uaual, left much to be desired, relegating the Mideast to a secondary story.
Editorially, again Andres Martinez, the inept editorial pages editor of the L.A. Times, showed himself this morning to be well behind nearly everyone else in appreciating what the news is. Martinez had no Mideast editorial this morning, while the Chicago Tribune did, saying, notably, "All those who hoped that Hamas and Hezbollah would abandon terror when they gained political power must confront the fact that power has only emboldened their impulse to terror." The New York Times also had a Mideast editorial this morning. When will the L.A. Times catch up? Only, I fear, when Andres Martinez is packed off to the Santa Barbara News-Press to work for Wendy McCaw.
All major news outlets are well represented in Israel and also, to some extent, in Beirut. The region of course is the very center of the conflict between the West and Islamic fundamentalists.
But it was obvious that news events were unfolding so quickly that even the most professional of reporters, such as NBC's Martin Fletcher, found themselves to some extent out of position when the war erupted. Fletcher, on NBC, was broadcasting from the Israeli-Lebanon border, where he had moved from Gaza yesterday, but was somewhat hampered by being in neither Jerusalem or Beirut, where CNN had its correspondents.
If, as might be expected, the conflict grows in the days ahead, it can be expected that all major news agencies will send in more correspondents. This region is at present the very heart of world power politics and cannot and will not be ignored.