Three Stories Worth Noting
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
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
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
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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