Alexa

Few Tough Decisions on Saddam Pictures

Few Tough Decisions on Saddam Pictures

With no actual video of Saddam Hussein's execution made immediately available Saturday, media outlets who showed the noose being placed around his neck were spared some of the tougher calls they had anticipated about what to air.
Video clips picked up from Iraqi state television early Saturday showed a black cloth being placed around Saddam's neck by men in black ski masks. They then placed a noose loosely around Saddam, who had refused an offer to wear a black hood.
A cruder video, which appeared to have been taken with a cell phone, showed Saddam draped in a white shroud, his neck turned at an unnatural angle. The shroud and part of his neck contained what appeared to be blood stains.
All of the footage was shown on Fox News Channel almost as quickly as it was captured by satellite and reviewed.
"Everyone was anticipating we would have a difficult decision to make," said David Rhodes, Fox vice president of news. "But when you consider what we and everyone else saw coming in, the pictures were fairly dramatic, but there was nothing we had to do" before televising it, he said.
Fox ran side-by-side pictures of Saddam, one a file photo labeled "Alive" and the other a blurry still photo after the execution marked "Dead."
Anderson Cooper repeatedly told CNN viewers after the execution was announced late Friday that video was expected soon and the network would be "very judicious" in how it was presented.
However, "there haven't been any tough decisions yet," CNN spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg said Saturday.
NBC News, both on the Saturday "Today" show and on the MSNBC cable channel until about midday, aired only video taken before Saddam was hanged. NBC News President Steve Capus then approved the use of one still photo of Saddam's body.
"I didn't want them to rush into it," Capus said. "I wanted them to be cautious. I didn't think there was anything to be gained by being first with the pictures of the body."
CBS News aired four separate images of Saddam's body on "The Early Show." ABC, keeping in mind the hour of the day, decided to show only a still picture of the body, one without the blood stains.
"We decided to isolate a freeze frame that clearly identified it was him but didn't dwell on it and didn't have some of the more macabre aspects of his head," said Bob Murphy, ABC News senior vice president.
As the day went on, broadcasters faced a delicate issue: how or whether to mix in reportage of Saddam's execution on Saturday evening while covering live services for the late President Gerald Ford.
Release of the video _ with no separate still photos _ happened almost precisely at the worst time for most newspapers, missing their Saturday deadlines. Photos taken from the video were posted on the Web sites of several newspapers on Saturday, but editors had to decide how prominently they would use photos in Sunday newspapers that readers had seen with their morning coffee a day earlier.
Many of the news executives said they expect more footage of the execution to be released _ they just don't know when or how much.
"It's inevitable that the footage of the actual execution will be released by somebody at some time, but we will not be running that," NBC's Capus said. "We don't have to show that to the world."


Updated : 2021-04-14 23:28 GMT+08:00