Sunday, March 26, 2006

Saddam Trial: Too Much Focus On Antics, Not Evidence?

The CBS newsblog discusses news coming out of Saddam's trial.

First, there doesn't seem to be much doubt about Saddam's guilt at this point. There have been many news reports about Saddam's time in power in Iraq, and it's pretty clear to almost all observers that he's responsible for some truly horrendous crimes. That's not to say Saddam does not deserve a trial. Even the worst criminals do. But from a news perspective, focusing on the evidence seems less important because many of his crimes have already been well documented.

At the same time, one could argue that what Saddam did – not his antics – are the real story here. There is something to that argument – I don't think anyone could claim that his crimes are less important or significant than his courtroom outbursts. But it shouldn't come as a surprise that his antics are what's getting most of the attention. Saddam is a compelling figure, one who has existed mostly at a distance for a long time, and the trial offers the best opportunity most Americans have ever had to see what he's really like.

In addition, as alluded to above, the trial, and Saddam's outbursts, are the story of the moment. His crimes have been reported for years. One could claim that the crimes have been insufficiently covered in the past, and that the trial marks an opportunity to make up for that. That's a subjective determination. But members of the media want stories that feel fresh, and there's very little evidence coming out of the trial that goes beyond the horrendous atrocities already documented. Rest here


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