NBC, at 10:14pm, was the first broadcast network to report the execution of Saddam Hussein. Campbell Brown anchored from New York, and cited reports on “three Arab language television stations.” Richard Engel reported from Baghdad. The special report lasted two minutes.
Two minutes after NBC signed off, Katie Couric announced on CBS that “Saddam Hussein is dead.” Randall Pinkston reported from Baghdad and former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke was in the studio with Couric. Of the “Big Three” anchors, Couric was the only one to host a special report.
At 10:20pm, Shep Smith provided a two-minute bulletin for Fox affiliates.
ABC was the last network to report the news. Elizabeth Vargas was hosting 20/20 when she paused for a special report. Jonathan Karl said an U.S. official in Baghdad had confirmed the news to him.
> Update: 10:53pm: CBS says it was the first network to independently confirm the execution. That confirmation came from one of Saddam’s attorneys…
> Update: 11:02pm: “While ABC was last to get on the air with a report on Saddam’s execution, we were FIRST to air official independent confirmation” from the U.S., an ABC insider says. “Seconds before the special report took to the air, Jonathan Karl had just gotten off the phone with a senior U.S. official who confirmed what all the others were hanging on unconfirmed Arab media reports. This was a deliberate decision made by wise managers in New York.”