|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2006
|CONTACT: TIM SCHEIDERER OR
COLLEEN O’BOYLE AT 703.683.5004
TV’S SADDAM: COURTROOM
MISCHIEF-MAKER, NOT BRUTAL MASS-MURDERER
Alexandria, VA—The Iraq war is now three years
old and the bloody ex-dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, is on trial
for crimes against humanity and genocide. Yet the evidence behind
these charges — and the gripping testimony of Saddam’s victims — has
garnered little coverage from the broadcast network evening
A new study by the Media Research Center,
Shenanigans, Not His Crimes, found that Saddam’s trial has received
only light coverage on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, and
much of that has focused on Saddam’s courtroom antics, not the
details of his crimes:
Saddam’s trial has been mentioned in just 64 stories over the last
5 months. In contrast, the first 6 months of the O.J. Simpson murder
trial garnered 431 stories from those same networks.
ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted nearly three times as much airtime on
Saddam’s outbursts as on the testimony and documentary evidence of
his orders to kill 140 people in Dujail.
Total network airtime devoted to showing viewers
the evidence and testimony against Saddam Hussein: just 11 minutes,
35 seconds over a five-month period.
In spite of a record equal to some of the worst tyrants in
history, reporters found Saddam’s personal reactions and
orchestrated antics more compelling than the testimony against him.
“Toppling Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime and bringing the brutal
dictator before a court of law is unquestionably a major achievement
of the U.S. and our allies,” said Rich Noyes, director of research
for the Media Research Center. “But TV coverage has minimized the
historic significance of this case. Instead, the network’s Iraq news
has been a depressingly dour drumbeat of terrorist attacks, U.S.
casualties and dark warnings that Iraq is on the verge of ‘civil
“Saddam’s theatrics are meant to distract from the evidence of his
terrible crimes. Reporters should have resisted the impulse to
reward this cynical strategy. Instead, they’ve played right into his
For a review of the media’s reporting record on
the Iraq War, please see MRC's Special Report
"TV's Bad News Brigade: ABC, CBS and NBC's Defeatist Coverage of the
War in Iraq"
schedule an interview with MRC President Bozell or another MRC
spokesperson, please contact Tim Scheiderer (x. 126) or Colleen
O’Boyle (x. 122) at 703.683.5004.
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