April 19, 2007

Why NBC?

Everyone wonders why the murderer chose NBC to receive his package of promotional materials. Does NBC have some special reputation for evil PR?

Well, NBC had been conspicuously in the news, as it dealt with the Imus story. But it cracked down on Imus, so if anything, its immediate reputation is for being puritanical and moralistic. Maybe Seung-Hui Cho wanted to be shamed. But maybe it was just the most famous network at the particular moment when he had to make the decision. Or maybe it's just outright offensive to try to perceive the reason in a decision by a patently deranged mind.

Should we condemn NBC? Here's the way you could go with that:
Don Imus calls some young women "nappy headed hos" and we're all supposed be to shocked, shocked I tell you. Cho blows away 32 human lives and not only do we hear no condemnation of the vile person from the big media, but NBC is going to oblige the piece of human debris by airing his "manifesto." Democrat presidential contenders refuse to appear on a Fox Network debate, citing bias, but I guess it's okay for NBC is going to realize Cho's dreams of celebrity status at the expense of 32 lives.

Cho may have been a deranged psycho, but he was sharp as a scalpel when it came to playing NBC News for his personal patsy. Anything for a point in the ratings. I'm sure the families of the deceased will appreciate the Cho Show as much as they appreciate [NBC News President Steven] Capus's inevitable defense of freedom of speech and the public's right to know. Though I don't NBC will delete any of Cho's possible references to "nappy headed hos."
There's just so much wrong with that free-swinging attack. For one thing, professional journalism isn't about expressing condemnation or praise. It's about reporting newsworthy facts. There shouldn't be extraneous statements of condemnation. Imus, on the other hand, was an employee of the company, and a business decision had to be made about whether to continue the affiliation.

Moreover, it's ridiculous to think that a mass murder demonstrates that we shouldn't also be concerned about things less horrible than killing. Of course, calling someone a bad name hurts much less than a murder, but the existence of murder doesn't mean that we shouldn't care about our more ordinary social interactions.

What Imus did is trivial compared with murder, but all normal persons already understand that murder is wrong and we're not likely to cross that line. But we really aren't sure where the lines should be with respect to speech about race and sex. We don't understand the full effect of what we say, and we don't agree about how far satire can go and when listeners are being oversensitive. So there's plenty of good reason to talk about this, much more, in fact, than about the vicious murderer.

70 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Why NBC? What are the local affiliates in Blacksburg? I'll guess that the killer watched NBC more often than the others and that influenced his choice. But really, who knows why an insane nut-job killer does anything?

reader_iam said...

Amen, madisonman.

Maybe it was the easiest address. Maybe that killer was a fan of those endless shows MSNBC runs about predators (huh, I just now googled to find out what the name of the show is--I always flip away or past, as fast as possible--and it's actually called "To Catch A Predator.") Maybe the moon is green cheese.

I personally would have preferred that the package be turned over right away to authorities (which it was), but not reported about until investigative authorities announced it in a different context. Had I been a part of the NBC team, I'd have argued for that, I can confidently say.

I also know that there wasn't an ice cube's shot in hell that, having received that package, such a path of restraint would be chosen. That's just not how it works.

Howard said...

Imus should be shot, and kids like Cho sent to therapy for six weeks without TV.

reader_iam said...

Also, Ann, excellent points in the rest of your post, which were probably the point of it, anyway.

vet66 said...

The obvious comes to mind, namely the NBC logo. There would be sick humor indeed in sending the lunatic rantings to an entertainment giant using a proud Peacock on it's logo.

Like the perpetrator, NBC is morally adrift and the obvious target to be hoisted on it's own petard.

reader_iam said...

And I forgot to mention--your link isn't going to the right place.

reader_iam said...

I also found the Barbara Oakley op-ed (The Killer in the Lecture Hall) in the NYT interesting, but it's in select jail, natch. (At least, I think so--I have Select so I just automatically see the articles when I click them.)

SteveR said...

"Must see TV"

Tibore said...

Aren't we overanalyzing a bit? Couldn't NBC simply have been a random choice? I don't know if it was or not, but with what's known so far, saying "random" is no more or less likely than any other possibility.

Menlo Bob said...

Does NBC want the brand 'The go-to network for nuts'?

PatCA said...

You can't shut the barn door...technology is here.

I thought NBC did a good job yesterday but I draw the line at seeing any more. It's repulsive. And their claim that they have to analyze the info first and then release it bit by bit (watch Today tomorrow for more!) is disingenuous, to say the least. I hope everybody watches Fox or cartoons instead.

(Oakley's article is great, spot on.)

The Sanity Inspector said...

May as well get the material released now and in a big way. It would all have trickled out on LiveLeak later anyway, and become that much cooler in the eyes of the criminally impressionable.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Does NBC have some special reputation for evil PR?

If that was the case, I think some of the usual suspects are wondering why Cho didn't pick Fox News and have John Gibson narrate.

Then again when 'respectable' news organizations like CNN show snuff clips of our troops in Iraq under the guise of 'bringing out the truth of war' nothing shocks me anymore when it comes to the media.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry about the bad link. Fixed.

sam said...

NBC Sports has a policy of not airing video of drunken fans who run onto the field of play at football or baseball games. This is done because 1) it is unseemly to reward such selfish "disgusting" behavior with the public recognition that the "pathetic" individual so clearly craves, and 2) the withholding of recognition makes running onto the field of play less attractive to would-be field runners, thereby lessening occurences of such behavior.

Once again it appears that NBC Sports has higher and more morally-developed standards of reporting than NBC News.

claunchs said...

If the shown video somehow showed this killer in any other way than to make people feel even harder toward him, then I might see the point of objecting to showing these materials to the public. I don't know about everyone else, but I wanted to see them so that I could get my own feel for what this person was. They show the vague, and ultimately ineffective, spewing of a dangerous, menacing, failed mind. His words will have no effect - his actions are what had an effect.

Fame has always been available through crime. John Wilkes Booth anyone? Benedict Arnold? Jack the Ripper? I can see no violation of ethics or encouragement for the deranged in showing the public some of the contents of the package Cho sent to NBC.

michael said...

NBC's address is 30 Rock. That's well publicized and promoted. ABC, CBS, Fox, and CNN do not similarly promote their addresses.

Eli Blake said...

The point that is missed is this: He pretty much knew (from watching the wall to wall coverage of these events-- most recent one was the Amish schoolhouse shooting) that it would be aired. And knowlege of that fact that became a building block in his designs. Could it also have been a motive? It may be time to make a conscious decision in the press to collectively not air this (which the press can find the discipline to do-- i.e. voluntarily not airing the names of rape victims or of juveniles accused of a crime.)

There are some things which should not be aired. This is one of them, can you imagine what it would feel like to be one of the families of the victims and watch that on TV?

I am strongly opposed to censorship so I would be against legislating that a network not air such a tape, and if they choose to then I will defend their right to air it, but they do have a social obligation to not give him the attention he wants. The proper course of action would have been to copy it so they would have it if it became relevant, then lock the copy in a vault somewhere and send the original to the FBI.

Alshain said...

NBC is by far the most iconic network for the generation of current college kids. SNL, 30 Rock, etc. The John Williams theme music is enough to make an impression on a kid growing up in the 90s.

Crimso said...

"For one thing, professional journalism isn't about expressing condemnation or praise."

Expecting the MSM to behave as professionals is wishful thinking.

Eli Blake said...

clarification:

I meant 'not to air this kind of thing' other than (obviously) the reports that it occurred and if appropriate descriptions of the suspects. If it is no longer a guaranteed 'get your face on national TV' to shoot someone at a school, then the sickos may find something else to do. Maybe what we should do is take a page from the 1930's and announce that the media will no longer give much coverage to school shootings, but will air the picture and a description of anyone who (successfully or not) goes over Niagara Falls in a barrel. That way they at least won't be jeopardizing others in their insatiable lust for publicity.

Mike said...

Maybe he's a Keith Olberman fan.

I agree with Eli. The material this guy produced should not be aired. It encourages the next nut who knows he'll get the stage he covets. I don't think it provides useful information to the public. It won't help anyone spot the next guy.

TMink said...

This poor boy was batshit crazy. It is a safe assumption that he chose NBC for some equally demented reason.

I wish they had not shown it. I will not watch it. It serves no good purpose, and I fear it will inspire others who are demented.

It is interesting that the horrid images from 9-11 have become taboo but this is treated like a prize.

Trey

Maxine Weiss said...

Speedo Grey Sport Support---

(How do I get away from that? I'm psychic---there is a reason why Althouse leaves that advertisement up.)

NBC----just imagine if this whole thing happened during sweeps. They'd be positively giddy with glee and have 24 hours continuous coverage.

Peace, Maxine

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maxine Weiss said...

9 out of 10 serial killers prefer NBC as their network of choice.

Proud as a Peacock.

paul a'barge said...

it's ridiculous to think that a mass murder demonstrates that we shouldn't also be concerned about things less horrible than killing

Yes, but I think it's a fair point to make regarding the particularly vile NBC that they would fire Imus for his comments while refusing to shut up the vile Cho.

Jeff said...

"professional journalism isn't about expressing condemnation or praise. It's about reporting newsworthy facts."

If you believe this then it's no wonder that you still read the NY Times.

Journalism since Watergate has been about "speaking truth to power" and "Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable" etc ad nauseum.

As Ed Driscoll has noted (following up on Tom Wolfe) the press has long adopted the pose of the Victorian Gentleman, decideing to draw a veil across what it deems indelicate regardless of it's newsworthiness. It goes without saying that what the press deems newsworthy is contentious in and of itself. The press decided that Americans were too bacwards and excitable to see ANY of the carnage of 9/11. What little was shown, such as the tower jumpers, has since disappeared behind the veil.

The press hides and distorts facts to suit its agenda and values every single day.

Rocker 419 said...

There was a time in this country when discretion was the better part of valour. No more. We all know ABC and CBS would have done the same thing. But the bottom line is, this is not news. This is sensationalism. NBC (along with the others) are political bottom feeders. God bless the families at VT.

Richard Dolan said...

Ann says: "For one thing, professional journalism isn't about expressing condemnation or praise. It's about reporting newsworthy facts. There shouldn't be extraneous statements of condemnation."

That's an idealized view at best, and does not remotely describe the realities here. Network news is, first and foremost, about ratings; ratings translate into profits; and from the perspective of the larger organization, profits are the objective of the exercise. Capus doesn't need to be reminded of that; he lives it on a daily basis. Granted, "professional journalism" has its own and quite different value structure. But in a context where the issue is whether to broadcast Cho's videos, this exercise in "reporting newsworthy facts" (if that's what NBS told itself it was doing) has become indistinguishable from sensationalism in the service of higher ratings.

I agree with you that the Imus comparison is out of place, and just confuses things for manipulative reasons. But for the same reason, it's a bit snarky of you to ask whether "we should condemn NBC" and then suggest that the article you feature is a sensible or persuasive way to go about it. Talk about setting up a straw man. There were many good reasons why a responsible journalist, wholly devoted to "reporting newsworthy facts," should have concluded that broadcasting those videos would not be appropriate. There are already many articles on the web making those arguments. The larger reality here is that NBC's decision to broadcast the videos didn't come as a surprise to anyone (least of all Cho). Despite his madness, he understood completely that network news is governed by commercial values, unable to resist the allure of higher ratings, and has nothing much to do with high-minded notions of "professional journalism."

reader_iam said...

he understood completely that network news is governed by commercial values

Exactly! Generating ratings! Which measure how many of--dare I say it?--we the people are watching. On another thread (or two) here, that's basically the point I was making: if you want to blame the media (and, yes, of course it has some effects), then you have to look at at the drivers--the demand side.

In other words, the consumers.

It seems to me that a lot of the media-blamers want to offload their own responsibility, as if their own behavior (i.e. consumption, and of what and where) is entirely unrelated.

reader_iam said...

So, if you want to blame the media for encouraging spree killers, which is a perfectly defensible position, then you ALSO have to blame media consumers for encouraging the media. Otherwise, your position can't be taken very seriously.

Right?

Telford said...

Of course it was unethical to grant the murderer his wish and broadcast these images! For decades journalists knew and operated under such rules: you don't 'cover' certain crimes (for instance, hijackings) in ways that encourage more of them.

Thanks to NBC, now there are psychotic people out there who have not only their psychoses to deal with, but burned-in images of this guy posing with weapons and pointing his gun at the camera Hollywood-style. They're thinking, "Cool." They're free-associating with mental images of themselves on national TV. How many of them are there? I don't know. How many people in the seventies became hijackers because of the media exposure? Not many -- but too many.

I predict that people will die as a result of NBC's failure to respect what were once settled journalism ethics.

Internet Ronin said...

R-iam: I can't agree with that idea. If NBC said they received the videos, found them too objectionable to put on TV, and turned them over to the FBI, I doubt there would be a huge public outcry.

It did goose their ratings, though, that's for sure, because they told people they were going to show it so people tuned in to see. I'm not arguing their decision was good or bad, because I have not decided how I feel. I watched a clip (not the show) because it was available but I would not have had any objection to it being unavailable.

Internet Ronin said...

I predict that people will die as a result of NBC's failure to respect what were once settled journalism ethics.

Think so? I doubt it makes any difference one way or the other. Anyone who is going to attempt a copy-cat would attempt it whether or not NBC ran the video --- there was already enough publicity nationwide to satisfy even the biggest ego.

rhhardin said...

Tragedy is entertainment.

Sympathy, ``Sorry about your son,'' is not meant to express sorrow. It cuts the guy some slack in his social obligations. For instance, it's okay if the work project slips a little, or if he doesn't laugh at the hundredth retelling of the same joke, which otherwise is a social obligation. The guy has a use for this additional space, which is why sympathy is offered. Your empathy is otherwise of no use to him.

If you don't know the guy, then you're just entertaining yourself with your goodness and empathy. This is the media news audience, soap opera women.

I mean, it's good that there are empathy genes, but when it runs open loop like this, you get soap opera, which is mostly dysfunctional, like the women themselves.

Now, the business model of media news is soap opera women, for they are easy to attract and retain, news or no news. Their single concern is that these women not tune away. Nothing else matters. Hence the ``more at 11'' junk surrounding this tragedy in particular. The eyeballs of these women are sold to advertisers, and everything is governed by that.

In the matter of Imus, he was ridiculing MSNBC for the Anne Nicole Smith coverage, and for similar soap opera breaking news ; and what did him in was ridiculing Hillary and refusing to put her on the show (on the Tuesday before Nappy Hair Wednesday when the Clinton machine hit, and MSNBC was not sympathetic to Imus). Moral dudgeon was a cover.

Sample Imus Anna Nicole Smith comments here and here.

Internet Ronin said...

R_Iam: To be clear: I'm not alking about blaming the media, I'm only talking about the airing of the video and whether demand dictated supply. I think not.

reader_iam said...

If NBC said they received the videos, found them too objectionable to put on TV, and turned them over to the FBI, I doubt there would be a huge public outcry.

I'm inclined to agree with you on that specific point (and in earlier in this thread, I advocated that, except that I'd rather they not have even mentioned they'd recevied the package).

My point's a more general one, Internet Ronin, about how and why media choose to cover what they do. As I know you know, I've been critical of parts of the media coverage, the bandwagoning, the rush, the lack of doing some basic digging and imparting some basic perspective. I've done that because I KNOW they know better, and could certainly do better.

At the same time, the media isn't in the dance alone, and we need to examine more closely who's leading and when.

reader_iam said...

IR: Oops! Cross-post. We're basically in the same place, I think, just focusing on a different piece of it at present.

reader_iam said...

Airing the video was in response to what NBC thinks its consumers will respond to, and will draw more viewers, based on its previous experience with how those consumers and viewers behave. In that sense, I do think demand comes into play.

Not approving it, just saying what I think is the case.

As I said, it's a dance.

Internet Ronin said...

So I noticed ;-) (Surprise, surprise) [Insert "Great minds" quote here]

reader_iam said...

I watched a clip (not the show) because it was available but I would not have had any objection to it being unavailable.

I would have preferred it be unavailable, at least at this time and in this context, and I do not have television news channels on today, though I'm working from home and usually have them playing in the background, but I specifically REJECT watching them. I have seen three images from them, exactly once, which is a product of how long it takes me to get across the room to manually shut off the TV.

(Where the hell do all our damn remotes get to? Hiding out with the spare socks and 15,000 tweezers I've bought in my life, no doubt.)

The Vegas Art Guy said...

TMink,
He was evil. Was there insanity involved? Yes, but the way he carried this out drips with malevolence and bile. This was an act of evil by an evil man. I don't know if it was a good idea to air the tape and the pictures. Ask me again in a day or two.

hdhouse said...

the entire matter stinks.

i am wondering that if NBC got this in the express mail and it was opened and "immediately turned over to the FBI" - then I gather that copies were made prior to the "turn over" right?

was this "evidence"? any legal eagles in criminal defense want to comment?

reader_iam said...

Jeff:

"Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable"

That reference is from a famous quote--"...comforts th' afflicted, afflicts th' comfortable..."--by Finley Peter Dunne, writing as "Mr. Dooley." Dunne (who died in 1936) was among the most famous journalists (columnists) of his day, which including the era of muckraking journalism. He was also a friend of Mark Twain.

His quote, which is something like a century old, was satirical--it's meaning has been twisted in modern times. In fact, he was CRITICIZING the sensationalism and so forth of his day.

This stuff is NOT new. To be sure, roadcasting, and other technology, may make it more instaneously mass, but anyone who knows anything about the history of journalism can't argue that the instincts and tendencies have changed.

Back when there scads and scads of newspaper, the competition was just as rough-and-tumble, just as competitive, just as ruthless, just as market-driven, just as exploitive.

If you ever get a chance, go back and read some tabs, and even broadsheets, of days of yore. Might be an eye-opener.

Angela said...

I have 13 half hour episodes I did for cable access. If I kill 32 people, can I get a prime time slot?

Shades of "Network."

Maxine Weiss said...

Forever more the prestigious NBC logo will be seen plastered across the bottom of a killer's manifesto.

The NBC name will always be tied to 32 deaths, and the notorious videos brought about those deaths. Over and over again, those videos and slide shows will be played with the NBC imprimatur splashed across the bottom.

Who in their right mind is going to refuse that kind of publicity?

You couldn't ask for better PR.

It was a business decision. Their only regret is that there weren't more deaths, and that it didn't happen during sweeps.

NBC---Proud as a Peacock

reader_iam said...

The complete Dunne quote, by the way, is:

"Th newspaper does ivrything f'r us. It runs th' polis foorce an' th' banks, commands th' milishy, controls th' ligislachure, baptizes th' young, marries th' foolish, comforts th' afflicted, afflicts th' comfortable, buries th' dead an' roasts thim aftherward."

/end brief tour of "ancient" media history

Kirby Olson said...

Good distinctions about Imus as an employee.

Standards are presumably higher for a high-level employee than to just be a student at an institution.

If Cho had been acting like he did, and was a professor who was stalking students or setting fires or rarely or never talking he would have long ago been fired.

It's neat how you so quickly reincorporated the context. These distinctions often get lost.

Stanley Fish drew an interesting line in one of his talks about academia and what it requires. He said that if someone were to talk against the holocaust on their own time (outside the classroom) it would not be a matter for dismissal.

I think in a similar way if Imus had something along the lines of what he said in a private conversation it would not be so serious as when he was representing NBC on the national airwaves.

But still, since NBC does not have a tenure process, and does not therefore guarantee freedom of speech because it's their advertising dollars rather than the government who funds their institution, they have to think about it as business decision rather than as a philosophical decision.

What he said was going to cost them money. So they canned him. I think that businesses HAVE to think that way if they are going to stay in business. Business is the business of America, as Coolidge put it.

There are higher levels of protection in academia.

Which even extends to writing putrid plays in class. I hope it doesn't mean that all the puerile scribblers get bounced out of creative writing classes in the future. Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus is a terrifying mess, but it doesn't mean that Shakespeare was a terrifying mess.

I hope all these distinctions aren't lost. It's very hard to make careful distinctions but I thank you for trying to get that process started in your post.

PatCA said...

If news is news without value judgment, why can't they show the Mohammed cartoons? Why can't we see footage of the planes hitting the WTC? Why can we see video of snipers killing Americans but not of jihadis murdering hostages?

You can be sure some news agency would file a FOI suit and win had it been suppressed, though.

I agree with the poster that suggested stations should announce now that they will not show ANY footage of future rampages. NBC, will you be first? I'm calling you out.

The problem is we have thrown out all common sense and values in media (and on campus)--had this occurred in WWII we would have lost.

David said...

"For one thing, professional journalism isn't about expressing condemnation or praise."

No, but something like this transcends "journalism". This is one of those rare opportunities where the news media could show that they are human like the rest of us, and not calculating ratings-machines. Condemnation of the indiscriminate slaughter of 30+ college students and professors is not a controversial thing, and doing so in now way undermines the credibility of any news outlet, at least not in the minds of rational, intelligent people.

Revenant said...

For one thing, professional journalism isn't about expressing condemnation or praise. It's about reporting newsworthy facts.

The fact that they aired the Cho video proves that's a load of crap. Exactly what "newsworthy facts" did it contain? That he was a complete nutbag? We knew that three days ago!

Jeff said...

Populist posturing in the media is indeed old as the hills. In fact the return of the journalist-as-crusader in the last 35 years is one of the major reasons for the demise of the postwar "objective journalism".

The current resurgence of yellow journalism and partisan press outlets mark a return to an old template- pamphleteering gone digital. The British press never really abandoned the newspaper-as-party-organ; the joke is that the American press ever pretended that it did.

That someone as sharp and well-educated as Professor Althouse still believes in an a press that is "about reporting newsworthy facts" shows her generation grew up in a time of trust in the media that nows seems to have been an exception to centuries-old rules. The irony is that same generation transfered the older blind trust in the President with an equally misguided blind trust in the Reporter. Thanks to Boomer hubris, my generation trusts neither.

mark said...

"For one thing, professional journalism isn't about expressing condemnation or praise."

Gotcha. I would assume, however that professional journalism is, or certainly ought to be, about presenting facts. But the killer's video presentation was not about facts. It was a propaganda piece about his feelings and/or beliefs. And NBC chose to highlight this propaganda because, you know, the public has just GOT to listen to the killer's beliefs. In the spirit of trying to "understand" or figure his motivation, of course. I mean, without showing the video, how could NBC then appropriately interview the victims' families, to ask how they "feel" about the killer spewing his venomous words on the tube?

TMink said...

Vegas Art Guy, I hear your point about him being evil. I can accept that, and some people certainly are. I just do not have the facts or distance to agree with you at present.

What he did was evil, but he also looks crazy. He certainly could have been both.

Trey

Greg D said...

For one thing, professional journalism isn't about expressing condemnation or praise.

"Professional journalism" is supposed to be about "judgment". "This is newsworthy, this isn't." "This person is credible, this person is not."

Which, BTW, it's utter garbage to claim it can be "objective". Judgment is an inherently subjective process.

The "judgment" of NBC was that this would get them more money, and that therefore nothing else mattered. I'd call NBC News a bunch of whores, but I don't want to insult whores (after, whores tend to have standards).

NBC News decided to reward a psychotic killer, in the hopes that doing so will make them some money. They've sent a very clear message: "Are you a total loser? Do you want to get on Prime Time National TV? Great! Send us what you want to say to the world, then go out and murder a bunch of people. In exchange, we'll promote and broadcast your message."

If you really can't see anything wrong in doing that, then your judgment needs some work.

Sloanasaurus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sloanasaurus said...

It is now being realized by the public that the motivation behind the killings in Norris hall for this individual was the belief that his grievances would be aired over the national media.

People are asking... why? Why did he do it? The answer is, he did it to be famous. It's a perfectly legitimate reason if that is your desire in life.

That is why the actions of NBC on down is despicable.

It reminds me of the bartender who gives the obviously wasted customer holding car keys another double shot. The bartender isn't directly responsible for anything the drunk driver does but....

In this case the media (NBC news) is the bartender and the customer is the next killer.

The media is a participant in this crime as is excellently explained over at the John Adams Blog

F15C said...

I am furious with NBC, et al, including our local paper the Sacramento Bee for publishing/broadcasting what is essentially a fawning homage to a killer. They are deliberately making a celebrity out of a murderer and creating wannabe Cho's who are locking and loading as I write this.

Literally.

Right now many local schools in a 30 mile radius of where I sit are in lockdown due to credible threats from a guy who wants to 'make a bigger splash than the VT guy'. Authorities are hunting him down as I write this and I pray they are successful.

We have a son in a local middle school and my wife and I are very concerned - as are many, many others in the area.

This did not have to happen.

MrBuddwing said...

As someone nominally involved in the "news biz," here are my three cents:

If I were NBC, then yes, I would have aired some of the material.

Having said that, were I to show any of Cho's videos, I would have done it one step removed. That is, instead of pumping the video directly onto the air, I would have had it playing on a monitor, with Brian Williams watching it. You'd see the image on the monitor, you'd hear the off-mike audio coming out of the monitor's speaker, you'd get a sense of what was in the video - but it would be at a medium distance. Like I said, one step remvoed.

I would have used very short clips and allowed Williams to quote and summarize. And that, IMHO, is how I would have told the story - by telling it, instead of giving Cho a soapbox from the grave.

Galvanized said...

Simply put, NBC is the most sensationalist of the networks. While playing Cho's tape would get a lot of viewers, it spawns copycat crimes and will definitely lose the network its credibility. None of it should be aired...NONE.

Sloanasaurus said...

I would have done it one step removed. That is, instead of pumping the video directly onto the air, I would have had it playing on a monitor, with Brian Williams watching.

That still doesn't work. What NBC should have done is reported that they received a video but refused to play any manifesto by any killer now or never and would instead talk about the victims and the lives that were ruined.

Kirby Olson said...

I pulled this off the NBC website from a commentator named Beelzebubba. It's indicative of the way a great number of blog commentators are looking at the incident:

"I can tell you one thing, if this guy had gone through four years of an "English" major curriculum at a major American university like VaTech, then his head would be full of all kinds of hateful, anti-American, deconstructionist, neo-marxist, racialist, classist, "genderist" and sexist garbage.

Much of what passes for English curriculum is thinly-disguised radical left ideology, and we saw what that produced among the Duke faculty recently in the persecution of the lacrosse players."

The attempt to draw together the Imus and the Duke Lacrosse incident and the Cho incident -- does it make any sense? I think we need the evidence the tapes gave in order to see the kind of language with which Cho justified his conclusive action. The victim scenario that he played out -- as nebulous and bizarre as it was -- was still an appeal of some kind to understand his actions. It's odd that it was couched in both a kind of Maoist victimization logic and also (much less compellingly) in a Christian language (of some kind that I couldn't sort out --) his martyr idea.

It's an amazing tangle of logic and illogic. But the only way to make sense of him is to see this logic for ourselves. I don't see how it hurts us to see his language. It certainly doesn't make him any kind of hero. It just puts the evidence on the table for us all to sort out as best we can. He kept saying he hated the rich, hated them. His rhetoric doesn't validate his actions, but neither does the Duke 88's rhetoric validate theirs. Still the fact that they believe it does is really troubling.

DavetheF said...

It appears Cho's inspiration was the acclaimed and ultraviolent South Korean movie Old Boy, which he watched over and over -- and the Columbine shooters, to whom he pays tribute in his madifesto, calling them "martyrs".

Someone in the wash of "analysis" over the past few days said he was very like a suicide bomber.

There is so much "inspirational" violence out there -- such as the films of Quentin Tarantino -- that these rage-filled avengers will always find their script somewhere. The fact is that people like Cho are always going to kill. The medium is not the message.

The Exalted said...

I pulled this off the NBC website from a commentator named Beelzebubba. It's indicative of the way a great number of blog commentators are looking at the incident:

"I can tell you one thing, if this guy had gone through four years of an "English" major curriculum at a major American university like VaTech, then his head would be full of all kinds of hateful, anti-American, deconstructionist, neo-marxist, racialist, classist, "genderist" and sexist garbage.

Much of what passes for English curriculum is thinly-disguised radical left ideology, and we saw what that produced among the Duke faculty recently in the persecution of the lacrosse players."


really dumb ones.

The attempt to draw together the Imus and the Duke Lacrosse incident and the Cho incident -- does it make any sense?

no

Maxine Weiss said...

That's what news media does, they exploit tragedy, but so do lawyers.

It's really not that shocking. Actually they procure tragedy. I wouldn't be surprised if this guy already had a pact with NBC to allow them first dibs on his materials, and NBC even provided the production, lighting, camera angles etc....

Listen it's not that far-fetched. Didn't Dateline rig that car accident a couple of years ago?

Who knows what their involvement really was. Although I'm sure they really wanted the whole thing to go down during the May sweeps, and would have been happier with more people dead.

That's show biz, folks!

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

Cmon, you just know that any day now, it's gonna come out that this guy had connections at NBC....and there was some sort of a secret pact with the proud peacock network

reader_iam said...

Maxine:

There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?"


Sincerely, RIA

olddog said...

This won't matter in the future. Next time the killer will just leave his "multimedia manifesto" on youtube.

Code Red said...

I posted about this on a different thread, but this seems to be more on topic. You can see some of the links to NBC's homepage only ~55 hours after the violence occured at Va. Tech. You say NBC is regarded as moralistic? I can't disagree more after seeing their presentation of the story online. Greed, sensationalism, violence, scandal.. a bloggers dream and the media's source of profit. You can see some NBC and other major news network screenshots and decide for yourself. They are posted at http://whitehouser.com Media exploits Virginia Tech tragedy for profit.