Compiled by Fairness & Accuracy in Media -- ABC NEWS
- January 16, 2003: ABC's Ted Koppel doubts that America is "really listening" to war protestors, since "we're still only talking about a few hundred thousand people out of a population of 270 million-plus." It was Koppel who apparently isn't listening; moments earlier, ABC polling director Gary Langer noted that those strongly opposed to the war number "about 40 million people."
—February 12, 2003: A FAIR study examines all 393 on-camera sources appearing in stories about Iraq on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer beginning one week before and ending one week after Colin Powell's February 5 presentation at the U.N.
The study finds that while war skeptics are rarely seen on the network newscasts, 76 percent of all sources were current or former government officials. At a time when 61 percent of respondents were telling CBS pollsters they felt the U.S. should "wait and give the United Nations and weapons inspectors more time," just 6 percent of U.S. sources were skeptics about the need for war. Just 3 of 393 sources were identified with anti-war activism.
—February 20, 2003: On Good Morning America, ABC reporter Claire Shipman reports on the lengths Saddam Hussein might go to in order to hurt Iraqis, since he is "somebody who's happy to kill his own people." Shipman explains this scenario is "what the Bush Administration most fears," asserting that Hussein might "starve thousands of his own people, destroy their infrastructure, even cities in order to slow down U.S. troops, and then blame the United States."
This remark was followed by a soundbite from a spokesperson from the Center for Strategic & International Studies asserting that Hussein "is very likely to try and commit some kind of humanitarian disaster" in the event of war.
— February 24, 2003: On ABC's Nightline, reporter John Donvan presents valuable information about war's potentially "catastrophic" impact, but is still compelled to portray the human costs as an unfortunate side effect and ultimately not the United States' fault: "Even if Saddam is the source of so many of the Iraqi people's problems, very likely it's the U.S. the world would choose to blame."
The report ends by saying that humanitarian assistance would be necessary to ensure that the war would have a "positive impact," because "it is assumed that some Iraqi civilians, perhaps many, will be killed…. Not deliberately, but as a result of what is called collateral damage."
- March 23, 2003: ABC's John McWethy promotes "one important new discovery: U.S. officials say, up the road from Nasarijah, in a town called Najaf, they believe that they have captured a chemical weapons plant and perhaps more important, the commanding general of that facility. One U.S. official said he is a potential 'gold mine' about the weapons Saddam Hussein says he doesn't have."
—April 9, 2003: A FAIR study of television reporting for the three weeks following the beginning of the Iraq War reveals that nearly two-thirds of all sources were pro-war, while only 10 percent of guests were anti-war. The programs studied were ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, Fox's Special Report with Brit Hume, and PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. When only U.S. guests were considered, the disparity was wider— 71% of U.S. guests were pro-war, while only 3% were anti-war. Not a single show in the study did a sit-down interview with a person identified as against the war during those three weeks.
—April 26, 2003: ABC World News Tonight announces an "exclusive" report: "U.S. troops discover chemical agents, missiles and what could be a mobile laboratory in Iraq." Correspondent David Wright explains that the Army soldiers have found "14 55-gallon drums, at least a dozen missiles and 150 gas masks" testing positive for chemical weapons, including a nerve agent and a blistering agent. He adds that an Army lieutenant "says the tests have an accuracy of 98 percent."
—April 27, 2003: ABC World News Sunday continues to claim that the U.S. military has found chemical weapons: "For the second day in a row, some of the preliminary tests have come back positive for chemical agents." The next day, a New York Times report contradicts the ABC's weapons exclusive, noting that inspectors have "tentatively concluded that there are no chemical weapons at a site where American troops said they had found chemical agents and mobile labs."
A member of the inspection team tells the Times, "The earlier reports were wrong." A FAIR Action Alert (4/29/03) notes that ABC had not corrected their erroneous reporting: "When the news was that ABC's 'exclusive' had washed out, there was no mention of the story on the Monday or Tuesday broadcasts of World News Tonight."