Victims all: NBC airs the “words of a murderer”
Does this make the American public “the 34th victim” of Cho Seung-Hui?
Last night, I sat in stunned silence as NBC aired the self-videotaped, incoherent words and images of the killer of 33 people at Virginia Tech Monday morning.
Later, that stunned silence turned to pent up anger.
The killer, Cho Seung-Hui, rambles on in the tapes and recordings that he sent to NBC News Monday morning at 9:01 a.m., according to the envelope NBC showed on TV. That would put the shipment between the time Cho killed two people in a dorm room and the time he killed the masses in the school classrooms.
Cho rambled on in an aired videoclip:
“You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today,” Cho says on one of the videos. “But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.”
NBC makes sure to point out that Cho never identifies who “you” is. Cho also says he’s doing this for his “brothers and sisters.” He compares himself to Jesus Christ, saying he’s being crucified. He even mentions the “martyrs Eric and Dylan” (the Columbine killers, whose 8-year anniversary is this Friday), which shows how truly sick he was.
NBC anchor Brian Williams emphasized that his organization had been sifting through the materials all day, and notified the FBI immediately upon receipt (which was delayed, because Cho got the ZIP code on the package wrong). Williams also said that NBC was careful to edit the materials aired to be cautious about offending a sensitive and hurting community.
He added that NBC was aware that they were “airing the words of a murderer.” In an interview with the NY Times, Williams went further to call the airing of the tape “sick business”. But Williams gave no apologies for showing it, and just offered prior warning to those who might be offended.
This is the same network that, along with much of the news media, decided to stop showing pictures and video of the 9/11 planes crashing into the Twin Towers soon after the tragedy out of sensitivity concerns for the public.
What is the difference here, in this case? Where’s the sensitivity now?
More after the jump…
It took less than 48 hours for the killer’s video to make it to air. A coward, who takes lives of innocent strangers and then takes his own, does not deserve the public airtime to spout his nonsense. It’s rewarding the action, and sensationalizing the killer further. And it shows that to all the potential mass murderers out there that they will be
glorified profiled, dissected, and explained to the nth degree by the national media when they commit their barbaric acts.
It’s just another log on the fire of the 24/7 news-cycle monster than NBC has to fill daily. Now they can bring on the parade of psychological experts to analyse the killer’s tape, and debate for hours what degree of crazy he was, and who’s to blame. George W. Bush and gun control, video games, the campus administration, fellow students and Hollywood are already getting parts of the blame, when the only blame should be placed solely on the dead shoulders of this deranged student.
An angry Bill O’Reilly had it right last night… calling Cho a “despicable maniac”. Amen.
In my mind, this makes NBC no better than Al-Jazeera, which frequently airs Al-Qaeda suicide bombers’ final videos after a group claims responsibility for an attack.
It has rewarded the killer’s effort with additional notority and a worldwide forum — neither of which are helping the Virginia Tech community, the victims’ families and suffering students heal.
NBC should have taken transcripts of Cho’s rant, then distributed it to the media, burying the video manifesto and not letting it see the light of day. A killer deserves no such platform.
In the end, I’m sure Cho’s haunting video will get more face time on TV this week than the oh-so-important (until Monday, that is) 2008 Presidential candidates. That is, until the candidates blame Bush for the shooting.
[UPDATE: The Washington Post has a piece today chronicling the internal decision-making that NBC News grappled with about Cho’s video diatribe.
Not once in the story are evening-news ratings mentioned, which NBC won handedly by almost a point-and-a-half, according to the Drudge Report. Not once is mentioned that NBC News threw it’s “exclusive” logo over all the video, to make sure it “branded” it.
Branding a killer … that’s interesting.
One Virginia Tech student blasted NBC for the decision:
Nate Calhoun, a Blacksburg High School senior who lost a close friend in the massacre, came to the campus last night to pay respects to the victims. He blasted the network. “NBC really ticked my last nerves,” he said. “The way this university is already struggling with pain, I object to them putting these pictures out like that. It’s just not fair.”Kerry Redican, president of the Virginia Tech Faculty Senate, said he was not surprised by what he saw in the video. “This is a cold, calculating sociopath,” he said. “He must have had a narcissistic core to him.”
Correct. Cho was a narcissist. And NBC has just given him exactly what he wanted.
The FBI saw it that way too:
Former FBI agent Clint Van Zandt told Williams that the mailing was Cho’s “ultimate victory. This is the way he’s victimizing, further victimizing all of us, by reaching out from the grave and grabbing us and getting our attention and making us listen to his last rambling words and pictures.” ]