NEW YORK — NBC led the “Nightly News” Tuesday night with an uncharacteristic gaffe.
Anchor Brian Williams began the newscast with an “exclusive” that Raid Juhi, the chief judge hearing the case against Saddam Hussein, had been assassinated.
In fact, it was a different tribunal judge, one who had been hearing other cases against former Baathists, who was assassinated in Baghdad, along with his son.
The error was repeated by MSNBC and Fox News Channel before each corrected the error.
NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, who issued the erroneous report, corrected the story for the 7 p.m. broadcasts, attributing the mistake to “confusing reports coming out of Baghdad.”
A network source said the misinformation came from the Pentagon, which initially told NBC it was Juhi who had been shot and killed.
The judge killed was Barbweez Mahmood, one of 49 judges handling “high profile” cases in Iraq, the Peacock later reported.
“Juhi had been the target of several assassination attempts, and was under heavy armed guard. But tonight administration officials tell NBC News that the judge apparently killed earlier today was actually Barbweez Mahmood and his son, and they expect that the Iraqis will make a major announcement shortly,” Miklaszewski reported.
Gaffe came as the latest numbers from Nielsen showed Williams handily retaining the lead he inherited from Tom Brokaw over ABC’s Peter Jennings.