AP Contrasts Cable Network Coverage of Iraq Pullout

By Alex Weprin Comment

Iraq082010.jpgThe AP’s David Bauder compares and contrasts how the big three cable news channels covered the departure of the last combat brigade from Iraq Wednesday evening. You can read TVNewser’s notes here.

MSNBC, not surprisingly, had the most coverage, with correspondent Richard Engel using the Bloom mobile to deliver live coverage from the final convoy, and Rachel Maddow in Baghdad.

Fox News spent just under 10 minutes discussing the story, most of it during the 7 PM hour anchored by Shepard Smith.

CNN, meanwhile, split its coverage between the Iraq pullout and the Islamic cultural center being built in Manhattan:

The Iraq story was important, one that had been given short shrift in the media in recent years, said Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the conservative Media Research Center. But with MSNBC’s left-of-center opinion lineup, politics has to be considered part of the equation, he said.

“I would certainly think politics are involved in their ‘flooding the zone’ to suggest that ‘Lookie here, the Obama people doing what they said they were going to do,'” he said.

[MSNBC chief Phil] Griffin said the access, technology and importance of the story drove the decision. “I don’t think there was any politics in our coverage last night,” he said. “It was about the soldiers.”

One thing is clear: coverage of the pullout did not seem to affect the ratings. MSNBC did not appear to be the recipient of any sort of breaking news bump due to its coverage.