ABC Yawns: Not Interested in Whether Waterboarding Helped Kill bin Laden
Published: 5/4/2011 12:31 PM ET
ABC's World News on Tuesday continued to demonstrate the network's lack of interest in whether enhanced interrogation methods such as waterboarding played a part in the killing of Osama bin laden. The Diane Sawyer-anchored program was the only newscast to avoid the topic.
In contrast, Nightly News host Brian Williams interviewed CIA director Leon Panetta, grilling, "Can you confirm that it was as a result of waterboarding that we learned what we needed to learn to go after bin Laden?" He hammered the question three times, adding, "...Are you denying that waterboarding was in part among the tactics used to extract the intelligence that led to this successful mission?"
On the CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric made similar points to Panetta: "One of President Obama's first acts was to outlaw enhanced interrogation techniques. Now, some of these were used on detainees who provided information that led to bin Laden's whereabouts. Given that, do you think the use of these techniques should, in fact, be re-evaluated?"
Panetta did not appear on ABC. Not only that, ABC's World News on Tuesday didn't mention waterboarding or enhanced interrogation at all.
Both Evening News and Nightly News obtained scoops from Panetta. He admitted to Williams, "No, I think some of the detainees clearly were, you know- they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees."
Panetta told Couric, "Obviously there was- there was some valuable information that was derived through those kinds of interrogations." On Wednesday, however, both NBC's Today and CBS's Early Show ignored these important nuggets of information their colleagues obtained.
During the Bush administration, journalists indignantly attacked the use of enhanced interrogation. On the May 31, 2005, ABC's Terry Moran, at a press conference with George W. Bush, complained, "Mr. President, recently Amnesty International said you have established, quote, 'a new gulag of prisons around the world beyond the reach of the law and decency."
On the May 22, 2009 GMA, Chris Cuomo speculated, "Enhanced interrogation. Is that just another word for torture and is that the game America should be in?"
On September 13, 2006, Evening News' Bob Schieffer scolded, "Democracies have no business running secret prisons. That's what our enemies do."
GMA on Tuesday also ignored enhanced interrogation.
A transcript of the May 03 Nightly News and Evening News exchanges with Panetta can be found below: