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What If TV News Had Covered D-Day?

   By: Rusty Cawley

Imagine: What if today’s American TV news had been there to cover D-Day, June 6, 1944?

“Good morning, this is Peter Jennings at ABC News in Washington with this special report. The War Department is confirming this morning that Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, is now in motion. Unfortunately, the news from the battleground is grim for American forces. Despite attacking with the largest military force in history, the Allies appear to have lost this battle before it has begun. We start our coverage with reporter Terry Moran, who is embedded with U.S. Army forces at a stretch of Normandy that the War Department has designated ‘Omaha Beach.’”

Terry Moran: “Peter, here at Omaha Beach, everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. The Allies sent 29 amphibious support vehicles to this site. Of those, 27 have sunk. We are pinned down by German gunfire. In addition, we now know the entire beach is heavily mined along its six-mile expanse. Observers tell us they expect that more than 2,400 Allied soldiers will die in the next few hours. We now go to reporter Martha Raddatz, who is embedded with forces at Utah Beach.”

Martha Raddatz: “News is no better for the Allies here at Utah Beach. A navigational error placed Allied forces several miles to the north of their intended landing site. As a result, the Allies are running into less resistance than expected, but they are also giving the Germans an opportunity to strengthen their defenses before the attack is joined. It appears that the Allies have committed the crucial mistake that will cost them the war. Now we shift to Juno Beach and reporter Dan Harris.”

Dan Harris: “Here at Juno Beach, the Allies are having to deal more with reefs and shoals than with bullets and grenades. The landing crafts arrived too late to avoid these natural barriers. As a result, an estimated 30 percent of the crafts have been crushed before they could reach the shoreline. The Allies likely will suffer 1,200 dead on this beach alone as Operation Overlord stumbles onward. Back to you, Peter Jennings.”

Peter Jennings: “We now are receiving reports from the small French village of St. Mere Eglise, where we understand Allied paratroopers began to drop last night. The news from there is dire. Scores of U.S. paratroopers have accidentally landed in the town square and are being slaughtered by German soldiers before the Americans can free themselves from their parachutes. Now we go to Katie Couric for a preview of this morning’s ‘Today Show.’ I’m not sure why we’re going to Katie Couric, since she works for NBC, but such is the fog of war. Katie?”

Katie Couric: “Thank you, Peter. This morning on ‘Today’ we will ask the question that is on every American’s mind: Is Operation Overlord the first Allied failure against Adolf Hitler? For that answer, we turn to NBC’s chief military analyst, Ret. Gen. Barry McCaffrey. What is your take, General?”

Gen. Barry McCaffrey: “Paratroopers are missing their targets. Landing craft are arriving late. And now we are getting estimates that as many as 14,000 French civilians will die in this brutal, fruitless attack upon the European continent. What can I say? If Operation Overlord was to have any chance at all against these formidable German defenses, everything had to go perfectly. Instead, everything has gone haywire. The Roosevelt Administration must accept that this mission has failed, that we cannot possibly mount another operation of this magnitude, and that we must consider suing for peace with Hitler. This morning, Katie, I truly fear for America.”

Katie Couric: “Speaking of fear, don’t miss tonight’s breathtaking episode of ‘Fear Factor’. Share the thrills as that ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ James Cagney attempts to tap dance blindfolded atop a 70-foot flagpole while Hollywood starlet Tallulah Bankhead confronts her loathing of clothing. That’s all tonight. …”

Copyright 2003 by W.O. Cawley Jr.

About the Author

Rusty Cawley is a 20-year veteran journalist who serves as a news strategist for private enterprises in the United States. To comment on this article, write him at or visit his Web site at

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