"Good Morning America" hosts and reporters on Monday breathlessly reported the incident of President Bush having a shoe thrown at him during a press conference in Iraq as a "deep insult," an "embarrassing incident" and a "huge insult." Parroting the comparisons made on CBS's "Early Show," GMA news anchor Chris Cuomo reminded viewers of the 2003 toppling of a statue of Saddam Hussein: "You remember when the statue of Saddam Hussein was brought down? When it happened, all of the people there started throwing shoes at it."
As video of that famous footage played, Cuomo narrated, "You see them whacking their shoes against the statue? He's got a shoe. Bam! Bam! Why? Disrespect. It is a high form of insult. So, maybe a window into the mind set." Co-host Robin Roberts helpfully added, "And some of the highest form [sic] of insult in that part of the world."
Earlier in the segment, the ABC News anchor explained, "Shoe-throwing is considered a deep insult in that culture." Reporter Martha Raddatz later reiterated "It's also considered a huge insult in this world, the sole of a shoe, throwing a shoe."
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:04am, follows:
CHRIS CUOMO: Let's get to this really amazing incident involving the President and a couple size 10 shoes. During his farewell trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at the President. Now, this was not meant as a gag. Shoe-throwing is considered a deep insult in that culture. ABC's Martha Raddatz has our report from Afghanistan.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Robin and Chris, the President arrived at Bagram Air Base before dawn to bid his farewell to U.S. troops here. The President got cheers from U.S. forces at Bagram Air Base, a welcome change from the embarrassing incident in Iraq during a press conference. Just after Mr. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki shook hands, an Iraqi journalist hurled one and then another shoe at the President, barely missing the president's head. The journalist shouted "This is your farewell kiss, dog." Security then tackled and dragged way the screaming and bleeding man. We spoke to the President just after the incident. It's also considered a huge insult in this world, the sole of a shoe, throwing a shoe.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm not insulted. I don't hold it against the government. I don't think the Iraqi press corps as a whole is terrible and so, the guy wanted to get on TV and he did. I don't know what his beef is. But, whatever it is, I'm sure somebody will hear it.
RADDATZ: The trip to Iraq was meant to highlight good news about the signing of an agreement that calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of 2011. But while forces draw down in Iraq, 20,000 additional troops will head for Afghanistan, where the attacks have doubled in some areas.
BUSH: I think it's necessary work. And it's in the interest of the United States that we not allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven again for al Qaeda.
RADDATZ: The President is still predicting success in Afghanistan, even though things have deteriorated badly here. Chris and Robin?
CUOMO: And Martha makes an interesting point about what's deteriorating, what the opinion is. We're saying this is an insult culturally. Let's show you another piece of video here. You remember when the statue of Saddam Hussein was brought down? When it happened, all of the people there started throwing shoes at it. You see them whacking their shoes against the statue? He's got a shoe. Bam! Bam! Why? Disrespect. It is a high form of insult. So, maybe a window into the mind set.
ROBERTS: And some of the highest form [sic] of insult in that part of the world.