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Alexandria, VAThe 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 Saddams victims has garnered little coverage from the broadcast network evening newscasts.

A new study by the Media Research Center, Covering Saddams Shenanigans, Not His Crimes, found that Saddams trial has received only light coverage on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, and much of that has focused on Saddams courtroom antics, not the details of his crimes:

  • Saddams 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 Saddams 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 Saddams personal reactions and orchestrated antics more compelling than the testimony against him.

Toppling Saddam Husseins 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 networks 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 war.

Saddams theatrics are meant to distract from the evidence of his terrible crimes. Reporters should have resisted the impulse to reward this cynical strategy. Instead, theyve played right into his hands.

For a review of the medias 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"


o schedule an interview with MRC President Bozell or another MRC spokesperson, please contact Tim Scheiderer (x. 126) or Colleen OBoyle (x. 122) at 703.683.5004.