Ed Driscoll

TV News: Situational Ethics Applied Situationally

Rush makes a great point here:

Let me make a comparison for you. Here is NBC playing this stuff over and over and over again. However, when terrorists dispatch and decapitate Iraqis or Americans, that can’t be shown. “Oh, no, no, no! That’s too graphic!” We can’t look at the replays of the planes hitting the World Trade Center. “No, no, no, no! That’s too emotionally draining. It’s too soon!” Why, even when the movie United 93 came out people in New York said, “It’s too soon. It’s too traumatic! We can’t watch this.” But we can certainly watch video of snipers from Al-Qaeda in Iraq taking shots at American soldiers on CNN. But we cannot see terrorists decapitate Iraqis or Americans. That can’t be shown. We can’t see any of the horrors perpetrated by our enemies, ladies and gentlemen. “Oh, no, no, Mr. Limbaugh! That’s just too traumatic. Why, the people can’t handle that.” That’s not the real reason. Maybe it’s because it might anger and make resolute the American public against vicious killers, who have no regard for human life. So while we can’t watch that we are treated to this over and over again. This guy’s gotten what he wanted. As I say, they played this stuff more times than this guy pulled the trigger, and you could look at this as an unpaid advertisement for the next crazy.

“Go ahead and come out and blaze away! Give us the scoop, and you’ll get all kinds of coverage.”

Immediately after 9/1, ABC News chief David Westin said:

“The question is, are we informing or titillating and causing unnecessary grief?” ABC News chief David Westin told the New York Times just days after the Sept. 11 attack. Explaining why his network decided not to show any pictures of people leaping to their deaths at the World Trade Center, he said, “Our responsibility is to inform the American public of what’s going on, and, in going the next step, is it necessary to show people plunging to their death?”

If that’s the standard (and as Rush points out above, the standard is eminently flexible, depending upon how the media wishes to exploit each crisis), then why on earth is NBC giving Cho Seung-Hui a national stage?