NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, reporting on Saudi King Abdullah’s condemnation of America’s “illegitimate foreign occupation of Iraq,” decided to gratuitously bring up the fact that President Bush had held Abdullah’s hand when the then-Crown Prince was visiting Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas nearly two years ago, a gesture that resulted in much snickering from media types at the time.
Mentioning Abdullah’s critique, Williams suggested his hand-holding with the President in April 2005 was somehow relevant to his views on Iraq. “You may recall this visit by Abdullah to the Bush ranch in Texas and the closeness the two men displayed then,” the NBC anchor announced over two-year old file footage of the two men at Bush’s ranch.
In contrast, ABC’s World News anchor Charles Gibson settled for reporting Abdullah’s criticisms in a straightforward manner, while CBS’s Katie Couric said nothing about the Saudi leader’s comments, apparently believing they were not especially newsworthy.
Here’s how ABC’s Gibson dealt with Abdullah’s speech in his Wednesday night newscast, followed by NBC’s Williams on the same subject:
ABC’s Charles Gibson: “The U.S. role in Iraq came in for harsh criticism today from a key American ally. At an Arab summit meeting, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah called the American military presence in Iraq, quote, ‘an illegitimate occupation,’ the strongest words of criticism from Saudi Arabia’s king so far.” (18 seconds)
NBC’s Brian Williams: “One final note on Iraq. It comes to us from an Arab summit in Saudi Arabia today where the King of Saudi Arabia criticized what he called America’s ‘illegitimate foreign occupation of Iraq.’ The speech is making headlines because King Abdullah had been a strong ally to President Bush. You may recall this visit by Abdullah to the Bush ranch in Texas and the closeness the two men displayed then. His comments today are the harshest Saudi criticism yet of the war in Iraq.” (32 seconds)