Ted Koppel and ABC News "Nightline" will pay tribute to the more than 700 American service men and women killed in action in Iraq by devoting the entire broadcast to reading the service members' names and showing their photographs. Entitled "The Fallen," the special Nightline broadcast will air Friday night at 10:35 p.m. on KTRE.
Using photographs and information drawn from the army times publishing company's online "Faces of Valor" database ( www.militarycity.com/valor ), of Friday's "Nightline" will dedicate the half-hour program to showing a photograph each service man and woman in succession with their name, military branch, rank and age, while Mr. Koppel reads their names aloud, showing just those 'killed in action' in Iraq, as certified by the U.S. Department of defense.
"While 'Nightline' has been reporting on every fatality in Iraq and Afghanistan way under the heading 'Line of Duty,' we realized that the casualties were on their to becoming just numbers," said Nightline Executive Producer Leroy Sievers.
"'The Fallen' is our way of reminding our viewers, whether they agree with the war or not, that beyond the casualty numbers, these men and women are serving in Iraq in our names, and that those who have been killed have names and faces. Memorial Day might have been the most logical occasion on which to do this program. But we felt that the impact would actually be greater on a day when the entire nation is not focused on its war dead," said Nightline Anchor Ted Koppel.
Sinclair Broadcast Group says the broadcast is a political statement disguised as news. The Maryland-based company's ABC affiliates include stations in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Louis. The owner of the stations believes the broadcast is anti-war propaganda. The company says its eight ABC affiliates will preempt the show with other programming.
Nightline says the show is a tribute and the "right thing to do."