By: E&P Staff
ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman were seriously wounded Sunday in a roadside bomb attack near Taji, but are now in stable condition.
Woodruff, who co-anchors “World News Tonight” with Elizabeth Vargas, and cameraman Doug Vogt “are being treated at a U.S. military hospital in Iraq,” an ABC statement announced.
Both journalists suffered head injuries, and Woodruff also has broken bones. They were in stable condition following surgery at a U.S. military hospital in Iraq, and were being evacuated to medical facilities in Germany, ABC News President David Westin said Sunday night.
“We take this as good news, but the next few days will be critical,” Westin said.
ABC said the men were in the Iraqi vehicle ? considered less secure than U.S. military equipment ? to get the perspective of the Iraqi military. They were aware the Iraqi forces are the frequent targets of insurgent attacks, the network said.
Lara Logan, a CBS News correspondent who has covered Iraq, said the Taji area is considered particularly dangerous because it was the site of one of Saddam Hussein’s munitions dumps. Many of the explosives are believed to have gotten into the hands of insurgents, she said.
ABC reported that it was hearing from its Baghdad bureau that the two were in the hatch of a military vehicle taping at the time of the explosion, which was followed by small-arms fire.
The two were embedded with the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division and traveling in an Iraqi mechanized vehicle at the time of the attack. Taji is about 20 miles north of Baghdad.
In web article Sunday afternoon in the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz recalled that Woodruff “was with David Bloom outside Iraq days before the NBC correspondent died of a pulmonary embolism, and he immediately raced home to help Bloom’s family with the funeral arrangements — and to comfort his own wife, Lee, and their four children.”
Earlier Sunday in the Post, Kurtz by coincidence had focused on the new philosophy at ABC’s “World News Tonight” since Woodruff and Vargas succeeded the late Peter Jennings–with the emphasis on getting the anchors out of the studio. Woodruff had gone to the Middle East to cover the Palestinian elections and then on to Iraq.
“Moving away from the studio — the hermetically sealed, perfectly coiffed theory of anchoring — there is risk in that,” ABC News President David Westin told Kurtz. “In my view, the greater risk is keeping it the way it was.” The risk is that network news audiences will continue to shrink as younger viewers, in particular, seek faster, edgier reports elsewhere.
Woodruff told Kurtz his goal was “to be the best damn foreign correspondent I could be,” and he seemed to follow the Jennings model. But he also warned against over-emphaszing anchor reports from the scene just because they are there.
Kurtz continued: “After the 9/11 attacks, he spent four months in Pakistan. During the Iraq war, he was embedded with an Army unit. He was deeply affected by his hurricane coverage in New Orleans, recalling ‘people calling for help and not being answered, seeing bodies on the streets of a great American city.'”
Woodruff, who has been with ABC since 1996, has four children, including 5-year-old twins.