Politics Continues at the Water's Edge


Sinclair Broadcast Group has ordered its ABC affiliates to drop tonight's broadcast of Nightline, on which the names of all service members killed in Iraq will be read aloud, with accompanying photos. The markets in question include Asheville, N.C., Charleston, W.Va., Columbus, Ohio, Pensacola, Fla., Springfield, Mass., St. Louis, and Winston-Salem, N.C. "Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq," Sinclair says in a statement.

"Just look at these people," Ted Koppel replies. "Look at their names. And look at their ages. Consider what they've done for you. Honor them. I truly believe that people will take away from this program the reflection of what they bring to it."

1. The controversy recalls the dustup over Maya Lin's Vietnam War memorial, which during its development was slammed as disrespectful to veterans (for our younger readers: In olden days, a name and rank were considered somehow less heroic than a crappy statue), and is now almost universally praised as a solemn tribute.

2. As Chuck Freund noted here the other day, the dispute over war dead is never as straightforward as pro- or anti-war folks believe. (I think Ted Koppel makes this point in his comment.)

3. The Baltimore Sun talks to somebody who's involved:

One of the names read will be that of Marine Pfc. Nolen Ryan Hutchings, who was 20 when he was killed by American bombs in Nasiriya, Iraq, on March 23, 2003. His father, Larry Hutchings of Boiling Springs, S.C., said Nightline's plan doesn't bother him at all. "I was going to watch it because my son's going to be on it," he said.