321 - Interviewing Saddam

Peter Arnett (Mixed New Zealand/American accent)

Peter-ArnettThe interview with Saddam Hussein was the most exciting interview of my whole life and the most important interview of my whole life. What a unique moment! It was like interviewing Hitler in World War Two, and in fact people criticised me, they said: “Would you have interviewed Hitler in World War Two?” Of course I would have interviewed Hitler in World War Two! In fact, if CNN had existed in World War Two, he would have been on Larry King Live regularly, with Mussolini and Tojo and everyone!

The actual interview with Saddam was under the most dramatic circumstances; Baghdad was being bombed, he was hiding out in a small bungalow on the outskirts of town, Iraqi television had three cameras, it was a little room set up to look like the palace. Saddam was... was very agreeable, dressed like a diplomat, and talked to me for 90 minutes. It was a wonderful news coup, I thought. CNN went right along with it and put the whole thing on air, eventually, and I look at it as one of the high points of my career as a... as a reporter, certainly the most exciting interview I’d ever had.