At least two Arab-language television networks (Alhurra, US-based; and Al Arabiya, Dubai-based) are now reporting that Saddam Hussein was hanged in Baghdad at 10:05 PM Eastern Time.
Reports say he was executed with two co-defendants.
Related: in the New York Times, a report on debate at television networks today over whether and how to broadcast images and video of the execution. In the age of abundant online video, it seems inevitable that explicit footage will soon show up on the internet. How does that -- or should that -- influence editorial decisions at television networks? Will they show greater restraint on-air than online? Link. Poynter is running a related column about the ethics of coverage: Link. Editor&Publisher has a similar item here: Link.
Update, Dec. 30, 11AM ET: Online and on-air, CNN is running stills and video of Hussein at the gallows just up to the execution, and "video captured by cell phone" of his corpse wrapped in a shroud, with the face visible. The NYT online is running similar video and stills, and the BBC seems to be running the same footage (with stills of the shrouded corpse). As I understand it, the footage comes from Iraqi state TV (Al Iraqiya -- screengrab of their website below), which did not broadcast the actual moment of death. It would be interesting to see a roundup of exactly what editorial choices the big Western media companies made, and whether any of them went with different boundaries on-air than online.
Nice to see Fox News staying classy: JPEG Link (Thanks Krolls)
Explicit images of Hussein's corpse and "unedited" cellphone video of the hanging (which includes the moment of death) have already shown up online in other places. A quick search on Google Video, YouTube, and other popular video services for "Saddam," "saddam hanging," or "saddam execution" yields abundant copies of both the phonecam and Al Iraqiya footage. The metadata some uploaders have added for the more explicit cellphone video is macabre: "Includes the drop!" (examples -- video links: 1, 2, 3, 4)
Reader comment:Alf LaMont says,
The images of Saddam, and the notion that our country had a hand in such medieval barbarism were so disturbing, that I immediately sought solace in Matt Stone and Trey Parker's endlessly more amusing end for Saddam as a "Sandy Little Butthole" /Satan's consort. Link.Omar says,
The BBC News 24 posted to their blog on their editorial choices: LinkUpdate, Dec. 30, 930PM ET: Defensetech has more about the state videographer who shot the official tape at the gallows: Link.
Update, Dec 31: BBC is running a story on the fact that the phonecam video differs significantly from the "official" Al Iraqiya footage, which seemed to depict a quiet, dignified procedure. In contrast, the "unofficial" phonecam video shows Hussein being taunted and cursed at his death, and him taunting back, while camera flashes go off: Link, and here's their translation, though I understand that others would translate some of the nuances differently. The phonecam video would also appear to contradict some details of previous reports. Al Jazeera's English-language site is running a story on the footage here: Link. We don't know who shot it.