NBC News Reports “Presiding Judge” In Saddam Trial Has Been Assassinated, But…

By Brian 

NBC News appears to be stepping back from an exclusive report at the top of tonight’s NBC Nightly News. “There is word from Baghdad this evening — confirmed by NBC News — that the presiding judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein has been assassinated,” Brian Williams reported at the top of the NBC Nightly News. He called it an “NBC News Exclusive,” and tossed to Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon. “NBC News has learned that the judge, 35 year old Raid Juhi was apparently gunned down today as he left his home in Baghdad,” Mik reported. MSNBC reported the news at 7pm on Hardball.

Matt Drudge breathlessly posted the transcript, but then posted an update a few minutes later: “It’s not the chief judge…its a member of the tribunal of the judges on the case.” On MSNBC, Chris Matthews corrected the report, and said the presiding judge was not the one assassinated.

On FNC, Brit Hume and his panel discussed the news on Special Report around 6:45pm. Fox News sent a breaking news e-mail to its subscribers around 7:05pm. “The judge overseeing the trial of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (search) has been assassinated, FOX News has learned,” FoxNews.com said at 7:30pm, and ran it as their lead story. At the same time, CNN.com and MSNBC.com didn’t have a mention of the story, and the AP hasn’t moved any wire copy about it. In fact, as of 7:45pm, there hasn’t been a peep from CNN…

> Update: 8:02pm: “Miklaszewski was just on Hardball backpedaling big-time about how the real victim was one of about 50 judges handling the cases of former Baathists,” an e-mailer says.

> Update: 8:05pm: Fox News sent the following news alert at 6:57pm: “IRAQI JUDGE OVERSEEING SADDAM TRIAL ASSASSINATED.” Who was their source?

> Update: 8:10pm: NBC News apparently corrected the error around 7:22pm. Williams tossed back to Mik for an update. I’m efforting a transcript…