Magazine article Editor & Publisher

One Year Ago: Hanging in There with Saddam

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

One Year Ago: Hanging in There with Saddam

Article excerpt

(This article first ran just over one year ago, on the final day of 2006, with an update added on January 1, 2007.) With the videotaped execution of Saddam Hussein last night, newspaper, online, and TV editors in the U.S. debated what, if anything, to show of the act.

As promised, video and photos of the event were aired on Iraq TV a few hours after the 10 P.M. ET execution. When the time came, a photo from the video was quickly posted on cable news outlets in the U.S. and at the top of the Web sites of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post, showing Saddam with the noose being fitted around his neck.

They chose not to run another photo that shows Hussein after the execution. USA Today's site, however, carried three pictures in a gallery, with a second photo of the noose-fitting scene--and a shot of Saddam on the floor after the act, with blood near his mouth.

The New York Times later put up a 70-second video of Saddam getting the noose fitted around his neck, stopping short of the actual hanging. (The video screen was adjacent to an ad for the current movie about crazed strongman Idi Amin, The Last King of Scotland.) The Washington Post also put up the same video, somewhat less prominently.

Fox News may have been first to air footage on American TV, also stopping the images just before the hanging. CNN International also apparently aired it at the same time. CNN, among others, put up over a minute of footage on its Web site, leading to the actual hanging, showing an oddly calm and dignified Hussein ready to meet his fate. It was preceded by a warning of "graphic" images to come.

Early this morning, the Associated Press also showed a close-up of Saddam on the floor after the hanging, with a little blood near his mouth, and it was quickly posted at Yahoo News and the Drudge Report. The caption read: "This video image released by the Biladi TV stations, which are affiliated with the Dawa party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, appears to show the body of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein wrapped in a white shroud following his execution."

Earlier, on CNN, Anderson Cooper, shortly after the 10:00 P.M. hanging, had said that photos and video were expected to be released by the Iraqi government shortly and that the network would review them and air what it finds "appropriate," after warning viewers. What the images might also show, according to one eyewitness to the event, was observers chanting and dancing around the body. …

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