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From the December 1988 MediaWatch

Three Stories Worth Noting

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Page Five

On the Other Hand. . .

CBS News On China. While many journalists continue to extol mainland China for its reforms, correspondent John Sheahan is the first to thoroughly document one of the communist regime's darkest sides: its forced abortion campaign. His November 24 CBS Evening News report described the program in a surprisingly frank way: "No children without permission. An abortion if pregnant without authorization. And sterilization if somehow there is a second child."

Sheahan's investigation proved just how widespread and severe the policy really is. He featured a Chinese woman who was forced to have an abortion at five months and later forcibly taken away for sterilization. Two American doctors on a medical exchange told a particularly grim story of an abortion on a woman 31 weeks pregnant. Sheahan asked: "That's almost eight months, can one really use the word 'abortion?' One of the doctors concluded: "It's like murder."

While the government claimed in the report that it does not condone isolated instances of forced abortions, Sheahan found otherwise: "All abuses are blamed on local family planning organizations, but local authorities are under pressure to fulfill the government order to keep the population down....The policy of prohibition, abortions, and sterilizations is stricter than ever."

NBC News On Nicaragua. In his reporting over the past few years, reporter Ed Rabel has more often than not been sympathetic to Sandinista views. Recently, however, he documented how the communist regime has precipitated shortages of food and medical supplies. Instead of blaming the Contras, Rabel charged on the November 11 Nightly News: "Malnourished and wounded children often lack food, medicine, and pain killers in part because the Sandinistas refuse to accept millions of dollars in American aid, aid approved specifically for the children by the U.S. Congress. At least one huge container full of U.S. supplied medicine sits unopened in a Managua customs warehouse."

He went on to outline the growing disenchantment among Nicaraguans: "Many Nicaraguans just want out. Fed up with the Sandinistas, a flood of people, including skilled workers, technicians, and professionals, stand in line each day for visas to leave the country."

CBS News On Afghanistan. During Gorbachevís early December visit to New York, ABC, CNN, and NBC spent much of their nightly newscasts praising his reform efforts and his openness in the world arena. The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather tempered its praise with exclusive footage from Afghanistan. CBS News has frequently challenged the Soviet Union with hardhitting reporting on the now nine year old war, and its early December four part series "Afghanistan: The Soviet Failure" was no exception.

On December 5, Dan Rather revealed the war effort has been stepped up: "Soviet troops have mostly withdrawn, but in a desperate attempt to prevent the collapse of government forces, the Soviets are now conducting some of the heaviest bombing of the war." Portraying the war as a "disaster" for the Soviet Union, Rather described the situation in Kabul: "The Soviets drive SKUD missiles around town, in what Western diplomats say is a clear attempt to bolster the regime and intimidate the public."

Rather summed up the Mujahideen position in the last installment: "Mikhail Gorbachev said yesterday, it is time to heal the wounds in Afghanistan. But for the rebels there will be no forgiveness. Over a million Afghans have been killed. There will be no healing. There will only be scores to settle."

In contrast, ABC News concentrated on the Soviet side of things in Afghanistan the past few weeks, blaming the freedom fighters and the U.S. for the continued Soviet presence. On November 4, Walter Rodgers declared: "These increased Afghan guerrilla raids on Soviet and civilian targets are what caused the Russians to suspend their troop withdrawals." On December 6, ABC's John McWethy stated "Mikhail Gorbachev is expected to complain about U.S. continuing help for the Mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan, aid," McWethy worried, "that is costing Soviet lives."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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