On Like Donkey Kong: MKH on 'Reliable Sources'

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Apr 23, 2007 10:45 AM

I was about the load up this YouTube, and Allah beat me to it, as usual.

I believe the show assumed I was anti-NBC in the Cho video controversy, which I'm not. I just don't see how a news outlet gets news like that and doesn't do something with it.

Do they need to do it delicately, sensitively, thoughtfully? Yes. Did NBC do it delicately, sensitively, thoughtfully enough? No. But, as skeptical as I am about the MSM (and that's pretty darn skeptical, if you've been reading the blog for a while), I don't think this is all about money or ratings. To some extent, it's about just being a news organization with news to tell.

My suggestion on the show was maybe NBC should have waited a bit, maybe until the funerals for these kids have passed, until it puts the 24-hour-a-day emphasis on Cho's insanity. I also meant to mention that they could stand to avoid putting the video on an hourly loop. Instead, add a disclaimer and run it a couple times, at appointed times, so the people who want to see it see it, and the people who don't can avoid it.

This was a tough spot for NBC. I think they could have stood to have shown a little more noticeable shame about being chosen as the go-to outlet for mass murderers, and I think they could have shown the video with a lot more caution, but I think they had to show the video.  

Am I concerned that the showing of the video will inspire copycats? Of course I am. We all are. But if we want to significantly cut down on the possibility of copycats, it seems to me we're gonna have to scale back considerably on the amount of regular news coverage such an event eats up. Even without NBC showing the Cho video, any potential copycat sees that his potential dastardly deed could be the subject of entire news cycles on every network and cable channel. It seems to me that's probably inspiring enough for a person who's already tipping the psycho scales. This is a paradox, and one the news industry must always deal with. We give attention to big crimes because they're newsworthy and deserve it, but such attention can feed the very people who perpetrate the crimes in the first place.

So, I'm in disagreement with my friend, Hugh, on this, but even he argues that a redacted version of the written statement would have been acceptable. NBC was damned if they did, damned if they didn't, and damned if they did anything in between, from the beginning.

Had they not shown anything, the criticism would have been just as heated, but from an entirely different sector. And, because they took a sort of middle ground, there's room for everyone to pile on and say, "well, they should have been more this" or "more that" or "done this differently." That doesn't mean the criticism is illegitimate, but NBC should have known what it was getting into. The newsman/woman/person (heh) in me is sympathetic to the fact that they had news-- big news-- to break, and had to find a way to do it. Any path they chose was gonna get them a  whoopin' from someone, but as a news organization, I don't think they could conceivably have decided not to break the news.

Allah's got video, here, and has an argument against my thought about a waiting period.

Here's the YouTube, as well: