AC: "They don't approve of his method, but they certainly approve of his message."
Anderson Cooper asks Michael about the Iraqi journalist whose outburst has riveted the world's attention -- what will happen to him? Under Saddam, he would most certainly already be dead; has enough democracy been brought to Iraq that his fate will be different now?
ANDERSON COOPER: The other important part of this story is the reaction in Baghdad and what has happened to the reporter-turned-assailant.
Michael Ware joins us now live in Baghdad.
Michael, the reporter was arrested. What's going to happen to him?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what we're all waiting to see.
In many ways, Anderson, this is going to be a litmus test of the Iraqi democracy that President Bush tried to highlight after this shoe-throwing assault. The irony is that, perhaps reflecting Iraqi opinion, according to the Iraqi prime minister's office, police are investigating this 28-year-old journalist, but not for an assault on President Bush, but for an assault on the prime minister.
They're not pursuing him for throwing his shoe at President Bush. They're pursuing him for throwing it in the general vicinity of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
We will have to wait and see if they think there's any evidence and whether he gets a hot poker in an uncomfortable place for that -- Anderson.
COOPER: The brother of the reporter had pretty strong words to defend his brother's actions. I want to listen to what he told ABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: "Americans have been disrespecting and killing Iraqis for five years," he said. "It's time we pay them back."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Is that the reaction of a lot of Iraqis? There was a big demonstration, I think Muqtada al-Sadr's people were out demonstrating today.
WARE: Yeah, Anderson, that is a sentiment shared by an enormous section of the Iraqi community.
We spoke to many people in the streets and beyond since this incident and it was a common refrain to hear people saying, President Bush deserves this kind of insult.
However, there's also an equal portion of the community -- it's fairly divided down the middle -- that says, well, we condemn what the journalist did, because it's such an embarrassment to our prime minister.
But even those who condemned the journalist all agree that they can relate to the sentiment. They don't approve of his method, but they certainly approve of his message. And we saw the furious anti-American demonstrations in Sadr City, where people were calling for his immediate release, condemning President Bush, and burning the American flag.
This is resonating across the country, where he's now being treated, in many quarters, as a national folk hero -- Anderson.
COOPER: President Bush did try to put sort of a positive spin on the whole thing. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: This doesn't represent the Iraqi people. But that's -- that's what happens in free societies, where people try to draw attention to themselves. And, so, I guess he was effective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know, I mean, had this guy thrown a shoe at Saddam Hussein or -- or -- or a post-Iraqi leader, the reaction obviously would have been very different.
WARE: Oh, yeah.
As my Iraqi mates are telling me, if this happened under Saddam Hussein, this would not have happened under Saddam Hussein. The guy would have been lucky to make it out of the room alive. And, I dare say, he wouldn't be breathing by this point, 24 hours later.
But, I mean, this is just a sign, I mean, not just of the ability of free speech -- and we're waiting still to see just how free that speech will be -- but, really, it's just, this guy has struck a chord, not just in Iraq, but across the region. We even saw the most prominent Arab newspaper that's published out of London, influential across the world, applauding the guy and decrying President Bush as a war criminal.
In many ways -- I hate to say it -- but, after all these years of this war, it's a reflection of the esteem with which the Arab world holds President Bush, his administration, and perhaps a sense of American power -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Michael Ware from Baghdad -- Michael, thanks.