Michael Richards in a West Hollywood comedy club and the authorities in Iraq who executed Saddam Hussein painfully learned that the prying eyes of television news can belong to anyone who carries a cell phone.
Saddam’s execution and Richards’ flameout illustrate the growing power of cell-phone video as a news tool, not only to supplement stories but to change them.
“It brought to a fore the sense that wow, this is a ubiquitous technology,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, NBC News vice president for digital media. “Cameras are now in places where cameras never used to be. That’s transformational.”
Iraqi authorities angrily searched for the people who recorded and distributed a video of Saddam’s execution after the grainy footage emerged and spread quickly over the Internet and, in abridged form, on television.
It told a much different story than the government-authorized video issued about six hours after Saddam’s hanging. That depicted the former leader fitted first with a black scarf, then a thick noose. Separate pictures showed his body in a white shroud, with visible blood stains. The pictures had no audio.