Well at least the BBC did not choose to surprise'The grimmest of milestones' - Matt Frei is so delighted tonight to be able to mark the death of the 2000th US soldier in this campaign in Iraq. The glee is palpable and he goes through the usual litany of his own opinions, with no major concern for whether what he thinks is particularly right or valuable. He manages to find a mother of a soldier to speak to, though oddly she says of her son only that he thought he was making the world a better place - perhaps she said she disagreed (I was not paying close attention), but her views are clarified as she is shown hugging Cindy Sheehan, whose son also disagreed with his mother's views. Matt is convinced the young men who paid with their lives were wrong (well, he does nothing to treat their views seriously), and their mothers are right (he is practically sycophantic with them).
Why is this so depressing to watch? Partly because it is so formulaic. Frei is no analyst - he parrots the same things every report. Can his editors in London have such low expectations? Why can he find no way to give a voice to the views of the sons who paid with their lives? Perhaps he knows his editors in London would not welcome that. Or would welcome it only if he made fun of the views or dismissed them in some other way - and that would be awkward, given their sacrifice.
I do not know this answers. I do know that Frei is a perpetual disappointment to me. The BBC does some things well, and has somewhat of a proud history; I will be greatly surprised if their reports from the US in these times will be part of a proud history in 20 years from now.