You can't say something outrageous. Well, you can, but that would mean something else. You can say something is outrageous, or you can call something outrageous. Or, in the headline shortcut that someone at Reuters or Google or somewhere abused, Iraq bombings can be 'outrageous,' Obama says.
And as for the pirate headline, well, that degree of "says" abuse is a new one on me.
As we tweet and RSS and SMS and MMS and try to broadcast news to ever-tinier devices, of course, every character is sacred, but there is a baseline of literacy below which reputable publishers should not stoop, and the proper use of to say is part of it.
As you know if you've been a copy editor any length of time, and stared at an impossible headline order at some point in the night only to see by deadline time that it was, indeed, possible, there's always a way. I'm not sure whether there was a character to spare in the format for the Gmail news clips from which I took my examples, but observe:
Obama calls Iraq bombings 'outrageous'
Obama calls Iraq attacks 'outrageous'
Obama calls Iraq bombings outrageous
Somali pirates claim to hold British pair
Somali pirates claim to hold 2 Britons
I used to think that the wrongness of President says bill bad and the like was obvious to any decent copy editor, but I was wrong. I've met some very good copy editors in my quarter-century of doing this for whom this was a blind spot. If you have the blind spot, perhaps the following excerpt from the Washington Post stylebook's entry on headlines can help.
Auxiliary verbs and forms of the verb to be may usually be omitted, but they are required in the progressive and after says:
Budget deficit intolerable, candidate says
Candidate calls budget deficit intolerable
Driver held blameless in Beltway crash
Candidate says budget deficit intolerable
Budget deficit said intolerable
Driver said blameless in Beltway crash
Farmers fear river is rising
Farmers fear rising river
Israelis feared PLO was infiltrating
Farmers fear river rising
Israelis feared PLO infiltrating
The verb must be used in an independent clause after a conjunction.
SE mother charged after girl is found stabbed and wandering
SE mother charged after girl found stabbed and wandering