Ed Driscoll

MSNBC.Com: Whoring For Hits

If you watch any football game (and presumably every other televised pro sport), if a liquored-up fan attempts to run onto the field, the television director in the control truck cuts as quickly as possible to another angle–any angle–to (a) not give some knucklehead his 15 seconds of fame and (b) to discourage others from attempting the same stunt. If the director of NBC’s Sunday Night Football knows this instinctively, then why doesn’t whoever runs MSNBC’s Website? Or as Mona Charen writes:

NBC is doing something extremely stupid by running those photos the Virginia Tech shooter sent them. Are they crazy? This will encourage every publicity seeking loser in the world to do something similar to get himself on TV. Foolish.

I’d make one slight change to Charen’s statement. The photos themselves are newsworthy, and should be released to the public. What I find discouraging is how they’re used as part of the Webpage’s graphic design, solely to build controversy and hits, to the MSNBC site. (Here’s a screen grab of that page, before it’s revised.)

But then, every newspaper across the country will have that photo on its frontpage tomorrow.

Update:Think hard, NBC News. You only get one chance to do this right. Maybe the right decision is eventually to show parts of the tape. But perhaps this is something you should sleep on.”

What? Sensitivity from the elite media?! Nahh. They’re rushing full speed ahead.

Update (4:30 PM PDT): Ed Morrissey has more details and links regarding Cho’s video and NBC’s rapacious decision-making.

Update (6:50 PM PDT): Welcome Captain Ed’s readers–Ed Morrissey links to this post, and has some thoughts on NBC’s decision to run Cho’s material:

NBC made the right decision to go public, and to work with law enforcement to determine which material to release at the time, as they apparently did. They unfortunately overshadowed that correct decision with the very incorrect decision on marketing the materials. They sensationalized material that absolutely required no such effort — and degraded their credibility as a result.

Since NBC has only run a snippet of Cho’s video, I agree with Dave Winer’s take:

NBC should release all of the videos in Quicktime form as downloads. It’s wrong to withhold them.They’re sifting through them and deciding what to release and what not to release.

It’s 2007, and it’s a decentralized world. We should all get a chance to see what’s on those videos.

GIven enough time the focus will go on their process, much better to just let it all out now, with no editorial judgement.

NBC will only leave viewers wondering what they’re covering up and why if they don’t.