I will predict today that some time in the next six months, there will be at least one more mass murder and the killer will have sent his media guide and accompanying video to NBC, or other major television news outlet. I also predict that NBC will not acknowledge that it bears the slightest responsibility when it happens. Already psychopathic creeps are composing and recording the “manifestoes” that will guarantee an immortality that they know they could never gain otherwise. This morning, I set a reminder in my calendar for October 28th, 2007, just so that I remember to check my prediction.
I find it ironic that the same network that paved the way for Don Imus’s exile by canceling the simulcast of the radio show chose to turn its airwaves over to a mass murderer. And I cannot believe that the network did not at least consider the consequences of its decision. Surely during the deliberations, somebody at NBC considered the likelihood of copycats. After all, NBC Sports knows better than to turn its cameras on the occasional drunk who runs out onto the field during the course of a game that it is broadcasting. To do so only encourages the next idiot to seek his moment in the limelight. If the jock division is savvy enough to grasp this, then it’s a cinch that the news division understands it as well. But NBC took the decision to broadcast Cho Seung Hui’s video even though they had to know that their decision is likely to cost lives.
I sincerely hope that that some sharp-knived lawyers are preparing to represent the survivors of next mass-murderer’s victims. I think that the courts will likely decide that crying “fire” in a crowded theater is not the only exception to First Amendment free speech protection.
Of course, the news media is notoriously indifferent to the damage that results from their irresponsibility. Newsweek published an inaccurate report that American soldiers at the Guantanamo Bay prisoner of war facility had thrown a copy of the Koran down a toilet. The report was eventually retracted, but only after deadly riots took at least 16 lives.
The next time that someone in the mainstream media claim that George Bush has done irreparable harm to the image of the United States in the world, he or she should be reminded of the damage that shabby reporting has done.
The New York Times exposed a perfectly legal secret program that allowed the United States to track and disrupt financial transactions among terrorist groups. Doing this enabled terrorists to circumvent the program. The Times did this even though its home city suffered the most from the September 11th attacks. It did this even though the program was specifically called for in an editorial a couple of years earlier. Someday, people will die because the New York Times chose to assist terrorists who would otherwise have been caught or at least had their resources denied will have had their task simplified by the Times.
The Times brushed us off.
But, in their own perverse ways, Hui and NBC did us a favor. By justifying his actions in his own words, he preempted the political ventriloquists who would have used his actions to advance their own causes. Were it not for the NBC broadcast, a parade of politicians would even now be identifying some government deficiency that his or her legislation will correct. Instead, we are free to decide for ourselves who might have filled his head with despair over America’s social injustice or fanned his hatred for the rich.
It is not hard to divine NBC’s motivations of late. In the Imus affair it was fear of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Principled people would not have needed the threat of economic boycotts to remind them to uphold standards of taste and decorum. And in the case of Hui’s tapes, it was the holy grail of Nielson Ratings that drove NBC to do the wrong thing. The news value of the tapes could have been served by having forensic psychologists watch, read and interpret the psychopath’s words. But, forensic psychologists do not attract the highly sought after sadistic voyeur demographic that is so prized by television news’ advertising division.
Cho Seung Hui will surely greet them in a specially prepared corner of Hell.