Video: When big news gets shortchanged

By Mike Taibbi Correspondent
NBC News
updated 7/21/2006 8:04:41 PM ET 2006-07-22T00:04:41

A tsunami in Indonesia — 500 dead and 20,000 families homeless — would surely have gotten more attention Monday, without the war in the Middle East.

Likewise, the worldwide heat wave in Europe and across the U.S. was unlike anything in decades, and it was also lethally dangerous. In this country, some two dozen deaths, and power outages across the nation -- hundreds of thousands of American homes still in the dark.

More bad news that got short shrift this week:

  • In Boston, they're still digging out from the Big Dig mess.
  • In Phoenix, 11 victims so far of not one serial killer, but likely two.
  • And in Washington, reports of more abuses of Katrina relief funds, some by a Department of Homeland Security official. A Government Accountability Report highlighted "the unwarranted purchase of eight high definition televisions, including a 63-inch plasma TV."

But by far, the biggest under-reported story of the week on “NBC Nightly News” was the especially bloody week in Iraq. The United Nations' estimate of 100 civilian deaths a day from sectarian violence suggests a breaking point is very near.

According to one published report, Iraqi officials are actually discussing how Baghdad and even Iraq might be partitioned along ethnic and religious lines following a civil war that many now see as inevitable, according to NBC correspondent Ned Colt.

"Most journalists I know and certainly most Iraqis I know — colleagues and friends and so on — would say we're closer to that all-out civil war than we have been before," says Colt.

There was some good news that also got little attention this week:

  • Discovery's landing after a flawless mission, the space program on the rebound.
  • And American Floyd Landis coming absolutely out of left field to contend in the Tour de France. Lance who?

But war trumps all other stories, good and bad, and that's nothing new.

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