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April 6, 2006
Saddam's Trial Strategy Looks Familiar

Today marks my return to the pages of the Daily Standard with a column reviewing the recent Media Research Center's analysis of broadcast network coverage of the Saddam Hussein trial. Saddam has had better luck with the Goering Gambit than did Hermann Goering himself, thanks to the hopelessly misdirected priorities of the Big Three's news divisions:

If Saddam has calculated that the Goering gambit will work better for him, he may be right. Saddam is betting that his disruptions will play better than the evidence and testimony of genocide, which is so lacking in entertainment value. According to a study performed by the Media Research Center (MRC), the media is playing right into Saddam's strategy. After reviewing the coverage provided by the three American broadcast networks, MRC calculated that less than twenty percent of the news coverage reported on evidence, testimony, and the background of the case--when they could be bothered to cover the trial at all ...

Saddam has played his hand well, but he has one advantage that Goering never had--an American media so poorly managed that it easily lends itself to this kind of manipulation. The trial has shown detailed evidence and produced compelling testimony to support the charges against Saddam--Saddam even admitted that he had ordered the executions of 148 residents of Dujail, though only ABC thought this worthy of complete coverage. That confession received only eighteen seconds of coverage at CBS, though that still managed to more than double NBC's paltry 7 seconds.

Can anyone wonder why the American public mistrusts the mainstream media?

I covered this briefly a week ago or so when the MRC first published the study, but I discuss it at more length in this article. The superficial coverage granted to this historically momentous trial should not only embarrass the networks but also points out how irrelevant they have become to true news reporting. Hoisting Katie Couric atop the CBS ship will not keep it from sinking -- it will only make the denouement more entertaining.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 6, 2006 1:23 PM

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