On Wednesday's "Nightline," co-anchor Terry Moran could barely restrain his amusement over the shoe throwing incident on Sunday involving an Iraqi journalist and President Bush, asserting that it had become an "instant pop culture classic." He later touted the shoe attack, which occurred at a press conference in Baghdad, as "a dramatic act of contempt and disapproval." [audio available here]
Reporting on the story, correspondent David Wright smugly spun the event as some sort of final judgment on President Bush's Iraq policy. As video played of the 2003 toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue, Wright sneered, "Surely, President Bush must have wanted the most memorable image from Iraq to be this: When Iraqis beat the toppled statue of Saddam with their shoes." Then, to footage of Bush having shoes tossed at him, Wright opined, "Instead, the final image of his long Iraq journey is this. The shoe is on the other foot now."
Of course, one might not expect much reasoned analysis from Mr. Wright. This is the same journalist who, on the October 15, 2002 edition of "World New Tonight," credulously repeated the high percentage of the vote that dictator Saddam Hussein somehow garnered in a previous election. He insisted, "Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that’s a true measure of the Iraqi people’s feelings."
A transcript of the December 17 segment, which aired at 11:57pm, follows:
TERRY MORAN: And sole sensation. They were the size tens heard around the world and the President's duck was anything but lame. How an Iraqi's shoe throwing insult became an instant pop culture classic.
MORAN: It was George W. Bush's final, farewell trip to Iraq as president. A surprise visit to a country that will no doubt play a huge role in the President's legacy. But the real surprise came, well, from an Iraqi journalist who stood at a press conference and fired not one but two shoes at the President in a dramatic act of contempt and disapproval. And so began the jokes. For David Wright, it's "a sign of the times".
DAVID WRIGHT: Immediately after he dodged the flying footwear, the President shrugged it off.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Do not worry about it.
WRIGHT: But Mr. Bush must have been waiting for other shoes to drop.
CONAN O'BRIEN: Man, I was thinking today before the show what- what story in the news to start the opening of the shoe this evening?
WRIGHT: On Conan O'Brien.
O'BRIEN: [Conan starts dodging shoes.]: Let's see if I've got what it takes. Just go for it. Come on, man.
WRIGHT: And David Letterman.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Too bad he didn't react that way with bin Laden or Katrina or bin Laden or the mortgage crisis.
WRIGHT: On Jimmy Kimmel.
JIMMY KIMMEL: This is the country we thought had nuclear weapons. It turns out- turns out, instead, they have size nine Hush Puppies instead.
WRIGHT: And Jay Leno-
JAY LENO: Did you see what he did though to keep from being hit? Something he's never done before: Lean to the left. He's never done that.
WRIGHT: The jokes flew faster than the shoes.
LENO: The shoe throwing was immediately arrested and then offered his own show on MSNBC
WRIGHT: Even Regis and Kelly riffed about the incident.
REGIS PHILBIN: And here's what the news says, shoe-icide attempt.
WRIGHT: And on "The View," Joy Behar defended the Iraqi journalist who threw the shoes.
JOY BEHAR: It's a form of protest. It happens to be a slightly violent one. But, that's what we went to Iraq for, to create democracy. We have protests here, so, mission accomplished.
WRIGHT: Today, outside the White House, anti-war protesters set up their own shoe-throwing stall. And online, the games and the parodies re pouring in. President Bush as Austin Powers.
["Austin Powers" clip]
WRIGHT: President Bush as Austin Powers. President Bush as a character in the "Three Stooges." President Bush as one of the heroes of "The Matrix". Mr. Bush is no student of history, but maybe he watched "Sex and the City."
["Sex and the City" clip]
SARAH JESSICA PARKER: Do you know what these are? [Holds up shoes.]
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not supposed to be here.
PARKER: Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes. I thought these were an urban shoe myth.
WRIGHT: Like Carrie Bradshaw, he seemed to know that shoes make a powerful fashion statement.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It's one way to gain attention.
WRIGHT: In the '60's, Nikita Khrushchev got the world's attention when he banged his brogues at the U.N. In the '80s, shoes made Imelda Marcos a household name. In popular culture, shoes have had the power to charm Prince Charming and ward off the wicked witch. In real life, shoes can focus negative attention too. Think, O.J. Simpson's size 12 Bruno Mali's. Or the shoe bomber Richard Reid's high tops. Perhaps it's no surprise that a Saudi businessman is now offering $10 million for the shoes hurled at President Bush. David Letterman suggested Monday that shoes don't hit presidents, but people do.
LETTERMAN: It's the same old story. You hear this over and over again. A guy, this crazy guy goes Payless store. He purchases a pair of Rockport shoes and they didn't even do a background check on him.
WRIGHT: Surely, President Bush must have wanted the most memorable image from Iraq to be this [Video of Iraqis hitting Saddam statue with shoes.]: When Iraqis beat the toppled statue of Saddam with their shoes. Instead, the final image of his long Iraq journey is this. [Video of the shoe throwing incident plays again.] The shoe is on the other foot now. I'm David Wright for "Nightline" in Washington.
MORAN: Well, the whole incident must lead to some real sole searching. Our thanks to David Wright for that.