As images of the hanging of Saddam Hussein quickly surfaced on the Internet, U.S. television news executives wrestled with the question of how much of the video should be broadcast. Initially the Iraqi government refused to make any of the official tape of the execution public, and the TV networks duly interrupted scheduled programming, reported that it had taken place and focused on reaction to it. Then, however, a video apparently taken with a cell phone by a guard or witness made its appearance on Iraqi television, showing the noose being placed around Saddam's neck, angry shouting between him and the witnesses being exchanged, then his body falling through the trap door of the gallows. The two major cable news networks, Fox News and CNN, aired only short clips from the video, but the TV broadcast networks aired only stills from it. Then, a second, more graphic video turned up and was quickly distributed on the Internet. Reporting on the newer video, the Los Angeles Times commented, "Its existence ... spotlighted the challenge that faces news organizations as Internet sites continue to supplant the traditional media as a source of information." The New York Times quoted David Rhodes, vice president for news at Fox News, as saying that the network chose to air the new video because of the verbal exchanges between Saddam and onlookers. Most of the other major television networks followed suit, airing portions of the new video but not the moment of the release of the trap door. NBC did not air any of it. The network's news president, Steve Capus, told the New York Times, "I firmly believe our viewers had a very strong sense of what took place."




01/01/2007