ABC’s graphic war video pulls in viewers

From the Associated Press

Since ABC News aired some of its most graphic footage of the Iraq War on “World News” Monday, nearly 300,000 people have viewed the tape or read about it online.

The video report has attracted more than 500 comments on ABC News’ website -- including one from the mother of an American soldier whose death was depicted.

The footage shows U.S. troops called in to help after a Bradley fighting vehicle was blown up. ABC showed the upside-down vehicle in flames, noting that six American soldiers had died there.

The troops go on patrol -- unsuccessfully -- to find who set off the bomb. At one point they raid the home of a sobbing old woman, and at another shoot dead the driver of a vehicle who did not respond to orders to stop. American soldiers speak bluntly on camera about the difficulty of combat missions.


The film was shot by Sean Smith, a photojournalist for the Guardian newspaper in England. It was shown on Britain’s ITN on Thursday and spotted by ABC’s London bureau, which quickly arranged to have the story air on American television.

“It didn’t really shock me but it saddens me in a way,” said Paul Slavin, ABC News senior vice president. “If we could have provided this kind of material through the years, the national debate would have been different.”

To film the story, Smith put himself in the kind of dangerous situation that ABC News wouldn’t allow its journalists in, particularly after Bob Woodruff’s wounding, Slavin said. The former anchor was nearly killed by a roadside bomb while reporting for ABC in January 2006.

Among responses to the story, ABC received a posting from a woman who identified herself as the mother of the man who drove the doomed Bradley.