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Couric's Gonzales Prediction Finally Comes True; Another Man Down -- CBS Translator Kidnapped and Killed in Iraq



Gonzalez_senateKatie_couric I know most of the TV news universe is trying to figure out whether the White House will be dumb enough to send up the guy who screwed up Hurricane Katrina to replace resigning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and what it means that the two guys who did everything to serve Bush have announced their departure from the White House within weeks of each other.

But I'm struck by a single fact: Gonzales' resignation finally confirms a prediction made by CBS anchor Katie Couric more than five months ago.

Back then, in one one the first newscasts overseen by then-new executive producer Rick Kaplan, Couric announced it was only a "matter of time" before Bush ousted Gonzales, citing unnamed sources after former Gonzales aide Kyle Samson began outlining his boss' misstatements in the U.S. attorneys' firing scandal.

CouriccbsIt was a good bet: either Gonzalaes really would be gone soon, or Bush would do that loyalty thing and everyone would forget that she hung a really attention-getting news lede on an unnamed source who turned out to be wrong.

Well, everyone but me.

Turns out, it took nearly a half-year for Couric's prediction to come true. Fortunately, we haven't seen many more examples of this type of prognostication on the CBS Evening News. With an expected deluge of negative stories coming on her one year anniversary Sept. 5, the last thing she needs is more evidence that the hard news thing isn't working out.

Another Man Down: CBS Translator Kidnapped and Killed in Iraq

Ben_translator Western journalists working in Iraq continually praise the courage of their fixers and translators in the country, many of whom work as the news organizations' eyes and ears with full knowledge that, if their identity is discovered they or their families could be killed. (pictured at left is a BBC reporter with his translator, whose identity is hidden to ensure his safety)

CBS today announced the death of one such translator, Anwar Abbas Lafta, abducted Aug. 20 and found dead five days later. Here's the announcement from CBS.


Anwar Abbas Lafta, a translator working for CBS News for the past 10 months, was abducted last Monday, Aug. 20, from his home in Baghdad at approximately 8:30 PM local time.  He had left the CBS News bureau in Baghdad at about 5:00 PM that evening.

Appoximately 8-10 armed men, some wearing body armor, entered Mr. Abbas’ home and fought with him and his brother, who was also at home.  Mr. Abbas’ brother was beaten, his sister was shot in the arm, and Mr. Abbas himself was taken by the men.  During the week, two ransom calls were received by Mr. Abbas’ family.  On Saturday, Aug. 25, a cousin, who, along with Mr. Abbas’ brother, had been searching police stations and morgues for the body, received a call from the local police saying they had found a body on the north side of Sadr City.  The cousin identified the body that evening.

Mr. Abbas was in his early 50s and was not married.  He had worked as a translator for the U.S. military in Iraq for approximately three years before joining CBS News.

He was buried today (27) in Najaf.

“Our deepest sympathies go to Mr. Abbas’ family and friends,” said Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports.  “This is not the first time the CBS News family has suffered the worst loss possible—the life of a colleague.  We certainly hope it is the last, but the pain and sorrow will be with us and his family for a very long time.”


[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:40pm]


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