Introducing: 60 Minutes All Access Learn More +
Unlimited, ad-free viewing of 60 Minutes archives, Overtime and extras

All Saddam, All The Time

Turning To Iraqi TV For News

60 Minutes II received a lot of letters from viewers regarding Bill Geist's comments last week about Iraqi TV.

Today was a historic day in Baghdad, but residents turning to Iraqi TV for
their news were out of luck.

Like Saddam, Iraqi TV is nowhere to be seen.

It's off the air, and viewers must be very confused, because up until yesterday, Iraqi TV was telling them Saddam's forces were winning.

You may have seen some of these clinically delusional pronouncements by information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.

  • "We will slaughter them all."
  • "We have crushed them in the airports."
  • And "We killed most of them."

With thousands of U.S. troops and tanks in the streets, this is the war coverage Iraqi viewers were seeing. And Iraqi TV complemented these
wacky news conferences with entertainment programming to match.

This was sort of like Iraqi MTV. One popular singing group got a lot of air time, having learned Saddam's own key to popularity - guns. They never had a bad review. They sang about Saddam - they had to - as did another soloist and a duet, Iraq's Sonny and Cher. And then, there was an endless procession of Iraqi Robert Goulets, all singing of Saddam.

When they weren't singing about Saddam on Iraqi TV, they were talking about him, or reading about him - shows that probably won't be renewed for the fall season. It was all Saddam, all the time. Only the hats changed.

Frankly, it became a little tedious, even when artists tried to jazz up their performances by singing about Saddam down by the Euphrates, or by using snappy graphics.

One man sang "Yes to Saddam" on Iraqi TV last week. One crooned, "We are all from Saddam." And another guy belted out "O Saddam, you are a sea of generosity."

I mean, what if Tony Bennett had to sing "I Left My Heart In Baghdad," a city
made wonderful by the infallible ruler Saddam Hussein?

This week, Iraqi TV was still showing the same old soothing serenades of Saddam, while the 3rd Infantry Division was hanging out in his palace waiting for the Iraqi leader to come home from a hard day at the dictator's

And yesterday, the information minister was still talking trash: "Don't be frightened. We are going to attack them and to destroy them."

That was the last time anyone saw of the information minister. He didn't come in for work today. He may be taking the rest of the week off, or
he may still be out to lunch completely.