Will CBS now dust off Saddam-nukes story?


Eric Boehlert
November 12, 2004 9:58PM (UTC)

Now that the election is over, is it safe for CBS' "60 Minutes" to finally air its famously yanked investigation into how the Bush administration either knowingly deceived the American public into supporting the war with Iraq by playing up Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities or was grossly naive? The segment, reported by Ed Bradley, was shelved at the last minute and pushed off until after the election, with CBS news chief Andrew Heyward announcing it would be "inappropriate" for the story to air at a time Americans were pondering their presidential pick.

According to a spokesman for "60 Minutes," the report has not been rescheduled post-election, and that "60 Minutes" producers and reporters continue to work on the segment. That suggests changes may be made to the report that was completely finished, edited, and screened by Salon in September. At that time, the unusually long 30-minute investigation, which the White House refused to cooperate with, centered on how forged documents purporting to show that Iraq had purchased yellowcake uranium from the African country Niger came to be the centerpiece for the Bush administration's rationale for war, thereby allowing officials to mistakenly claim Hussein would soon have a nuclear bomb.

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The irony is that originally, the Bradley piece was slotted for a Sept. 8 airing, but got bumped in order to make room for CBS' hot story about Bush's service in the National Guard, which turned out to be based on questionable documents. Soon after that story became engulfed in controversy -- and the network was besieged by complaints from Republicans -- CBS announced Bradley's piece was too controversial to air prior to the election, despite the fact that two weeks earlier it was deemed fine for a Sept. 8 broadcast.

CBS' concession left longtime journalists shaking their heads in disbelief. As Chris Hedges, the veteran New York Times war correspondent, recently told Salon, "I was disheartened, but not surprised. The press has been successfully cowed by this administration."


Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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