The shame of NBC.

A mostly political Weblog.
April 20 2007 4:24 PM

Brian Williams or Don Imus?

Who did more damage? It's not even close.

(Continued from Page 1)

Isn't Michael Ledeen right--NBC shouldn't have shown that video. It seems less like an "ethical challenge" than a no-brainer. Why encourage other potential Cho's to try for a similar publicity bonanza? This isn't a Unabomber like case where publicizing a killer's electronic media kit might help identify him. We already know who did it. ...  Ethics pontificators like Tom Rosenstiel seem to be lining up to praise how "sensitive" NBC was. Sensitive to the potential future murder victims. Sensitive to ratings. They struck a difficult balance! They walked a fine line! They split the difference. ... NBC's responsibility seems especially heavy since, as the sole recipient of Cho's posthumous publicity kit, they had the power to keep it bottled up and deny him the reward he sought, no? That's not usually the case--i.e., when a killer is still at large or communicates through multiple media outlets.**... P.S.:Who did more damage, Brian Williams or Don Imus? That seems like a no-brainer too. ... Backfill: See also Stephen Spruiell. ...  Update: Virginia state police superintendent is "disappointed in the editorial decision," according to a Reuters site that also displays the video (which is why I don't feel like linking to it.) ... See also bloggingheads' discussion. ... More: L.A. cop Jack Dunphy:

None of them will ever admit this publicly, of course, but in the safety of their corner offices at Rockefeller Center sit men and women who are privately gleeful at the ratings boost they were given in the form of the box that landed in their mail room Wednesday morning. 

If NBC hadn't run the video, future mass murderers might send their ratings-boosters to CBS. (I'm not saying NBC execs consciously made this calculation, but it's built into the standard reporter-source algorithm that if you give sources what they want, more will come. And it's true.) ...

More: Michael Crowley dissents, not because he thinks the post-crime publicity doesn't encourage future murderers, but because he thinks Cho's crime has already gotten so much excessively detailed publicity that the release of the video didn't add much to his publicity reward. I disagree. Videos have special power, they go viral, they are (compared with news stories) permanent, and they seem to be important to the publicity-seeking killers, which is why the publicity-seeking killers put so much effort into making them. ...

Shock: ABC's consultant sees this a little more clearly than NBC's! (He also speaks with some authority, emphasizing Cho's desire for a form of "immortality," which Brian Williams has now given him.) ...

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**--NBC's press statement, boasting "we have limited our usage of the video across NBC News, including MSNBC, to no more than 10 percent of our airtime" is extremely disingenuous. Once the video is out the video is out. NBC knows that. ... [Via Lucianne and RCP12:56 P.M. link

Not with a bang but with a whimper ... What if affirmative action went away and it turned out nobody much cared? Race preference defender  Race preference defender Lee Bollinger agonizes:

Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia's president, said he was worried about another admissions issue. "I'm becoming more pessimistic about the survival of affirmative action in this country," said Bollinger, who in his previous position as president of the University of Michigan led that institution's fight to the Supreme Court to affirm the right of colleges to consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions.

Bollinger noted that Michigan voters recently adopted a state constitutional amendment barring the use of affirmative action in public college admissions, and that foes of affirmative action are planning similar measures in other states. Beyond his frustration with the vote, Bollinger said he was bothered by the "degree of complacency" with which academics had responded to the outcome.

Isn't it better if preferences die quietly instead of with a big, divisive racial fuss? Complacency has its virtues. ... 12:15 A.M.

Wednesday, Ap ril 18, 2007

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