Having surveyed the fallout and spent some time reflecting on it, I’ve reached two conclusions about the way the media in general and NBC in particular covered Cho’s manifesto.
First, the material eventually needed to be made public. The ability of many people to analyze these types of materials is far superior to that of a small few, and this is probably the reason we’ve been able to connect Cho’s pictures to an obscure and violent Korean movie. This is the same logic conservatives followed in arguing for the release of thouands of documents found in post-invasion Iraq, and I think it stands up here.
The second conclusion echoes a point Louis made below: The media’s use of the pictures of Cho posing with guns and other weapons has been bombastic, exploitative and excessive. As Greg noted, NBC has now vowed to limit its use of these images. But what about the other 24-hour TV news shops? In the age of YouTube and the Internet, there’s no need to constantly barrage us with the killer’s violent fantasy image of himself as some sort of nihilistic warrior. The risk that some mentally unstable outcast will see the hero Cho wants to be seen as is too great. Simply making these images available online would have sufficed to take advantage of the decentralized knowledge of the public, without the need to give Cho this pictorial moment in the spotlight atop the most prominent stages in America.