LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - ABC will devote an entire "Nightline" broadcast later this month to a roll call of U.S. war dead, nearly a year after some political conservatives condemned a similar tribute as anti-war propaganda, the network said on Tuesday.
As he did last year, "Nightline" host Ted Koppel will recite the names of more than 900 American servicemen and women killed in Iraq or Afghanistan during the past year as a photograph of each one is shown on the screen.
The Memorial Day special, titled "The Fallen," will air on May 30, and "Nightline" will be extended from its usual 30 minute broadcast to about 45 minutes to allow time for all the names to be read, ABC said.
Many of the photos are being provided by the Military Times Media Group, which publishes a newspaper for each branch of the U.S. armed services.
"'The Fallen' is about the men and women who have died in our names in Iraq and Afghanistan," Koppel said in a statement. "We owe it to these men and women who have died in the cause of freedom that we remember them with honor."
A similar roll call of 721 U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the start of the war there was aired last April 30, a day before the first anniversary of President Bush's May 1, 2003 "mission accomplished" speech from the deck of an aircraft carrier declaring an end to major combat in Iraq.
At the time, some conservatives criticized the program as a politically motivated bid to turn public opinion against America's military presence in Iraq.
One Maryland-based media company with strong ties to Bush, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., even barred its ABC-affiliated TV stations from airing the "Nightline" broadcast last year, a move condemned by U.S. Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), an Arizona Republican and Vietnam veteran.
A few weeks later, "Nightline" broadcast the names and pictures of 122 American service members killed in Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion of that country in October 2001.