On Friday, Fox News aired the the suicide of a suspected carjacker after covering the chase live for quite some time on the slow news day. Shepard Smith was anchoring at the time, and issued this apology after the footage aired:
“We really messed up,” Smith said. “And we’re all very sorry.” [...]
“While we were taking that car chase and showing it to you live, when the guy pulled over and got out of the vehicle, we went on delay,” Smith said. [...]
“That didn’t belong on TV,” Smith said. “I personally apologize to you that that happened.”
Making it worse, the site BuzzFeed went ahead and posted the suicide on their site. Anger at BuzzFeed was immediate, even earning this rebuke from anti-Fox journo David Shuster. Writing on the HuffPo, “The ‘Live TV’ Suicide: Forgive Shep Smith, But Boycott Buzzfeed.”
Oh, please. One, since the HuffPo is basically a soft-core porn site that also has news, I’m not sure they can lecture BuzzFeed about using the suicide vid to get clicks.
And two, all cable newsers are guilty of this. Remember JetBlue flight 292 that landed at LAX with a busted nose wheel? All the cable channels covered that live. With the real possibility of the JetBlue flight ending in a giant fireball, I don’t remember any great concern for “accidentally” showing death in real time.
All cable channels cover car chases. I don’t know why, as I don’t watch them — but I guess they’ve come to the conclusion that they’re good for ratings. And anytime you’re covering a live event like that, there’s the prospect for a grisly death on live TV.
Just because there finally was a death aired live, doesn’t excuse the literal hundreds of editorial decisions prior to Friday that had no problem covering similar events.
If showing Friday’s suicide live was wrong and Shepard Smith really thinks “that didn’t belong on TV,” then stop covering car chases.