NBC’s decision to air video and photos from the VTech killer: right or wrong?

Posted by: ST on April 19, 2007 at 9:50 am

Ed Driscoll, among others, is questioning NBC’s decision to air video snippets and photos sent to them from VTech killer Cho Seung-Hui. The WaPo reports that the network “debated hours” on whether or not to air what was sent and eventually decided to air it while others strongly disagreed with their decision. NBC’s Brian Williams, who is their nightly news anchor, didn’t seem too keen on going on air with it. The families of some of the victims are outraged NBC decided to release the killer’s propaganda, with some of them even cancelling scheduled interviews with the network.

Do you think NBC should have gone to air with the video and photos? Some people suggest that it would have been ok to broadcast some of it, but not so soon after the tragedy – that perhaps NBC should have waited a while out of respect for the victims, and to not sensationalize the ‘manifesto’ so as not to give Cho’s propaganda a chance to influence potential copycat killers. I can see the rationale in all that, but at the same time I wonder if people feel the same way about network airing of Al Qaeda videos that we see from time to time. Should networks be sensitive not to air them because of the potential they have to spawn another generation of jihadis? Or does this fall into the category of the ‘public’s right to know’?

Related: What happened Monday, in detail, including a descriptive timeline of what happened in Norris Hall. Chilling.

More: I’m having a somewhat busy day, so I won’t be able to keep up with the latest news on this story like I have been, but Allah’s got up to the minute updates on the latest developments and will likely be updating throughout the day.

Update: Read more thoughts on NBC’s decision via ST reader Karl.

PM Update: Some VTech students have weighed in on the issue of media coverage of the tragedy:


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  • 20 Responses to “NBC’s decision to air video and photos from the VTech killer: right or wrong?”


    1. I agree with their decision. People need to recognize that there’s evil in the world, and that none of us are immune from it. I think if we spent a little more time reaching out to people like Cho before they do stuff like this – the nightly news would be a little less sensational.

    2. Leslie says:

      To all: I don’t see how NBC could have done anything else? Were they supposed to pretend the videos, etc. didn’t exist? That said, I have no desire to watch.

      To Justin Thibault: People did try to reach out to him, but apparently without success. I don’t know how much more could have been done short of forcible institutionalization.

    3. karl says:

      I discussed that in my blog last night.

    4. David L says:

      I am conflicted.

      On one hand, it good that we examine the the killer’s mind.

      On the other hand, like the Columbine kiilers, Harris and Klebold, Seung-Hei killed to achieve fame. Showing Seung-Hui’s video achives his purpose in the killings, his fifeenm minutes of fame.

      The media made Harris and Klebold famous. Sueng-Hui wanted his fame as well. NBC gave it to him.

    5. Great White Rat says:

      I don’t think the public’s ‘right to know’ extends to every deranged spewing that any lunatic chooses to record or tape. I think NBC (and the rest of the media, since then) should have exercised better judgement. David L has a good point – fame is a big deal, especially among many of the young today, and it doesn’t matter how you get it. I pray no one else is inspired to copycat after viewing this video.

    6. Lorica says:

      I have not watched any of it, but it certainly should add fuel to the lawsuit fire. – Lorica

    7. ChefJeff says:

      Showing the videos, pictures, and his writings was exactly what he wanted. Cho wanted the world to know about him and the media whores did his biding. I wish Fox hadn’t shown the pictures but they saw and heard the backlash and decided to pull them….for now. I cannot watch them at all after I saw a 90 second clip last night. I cannot view them out of respect for the dead and injured in the VT massacre.

    8. Baklava says:

      I think it shouldn’t be shown.

      As a compromise I’d say it shouldn’t be shown for a year or two or three.

      Copy cats are the only benefit with immediacy. Not showing it right away removes copy cat’s seeking a mouthpiece.

    9. NC Cop says:

      I don’t think it should be shown, but I don’t blame NBC for showing it. We are a culture that is obsessed with violence and those who commit it. If people didn’t want to see it so much, things like Cho’s little “mandate” or whatever you want to call it, wouldn’t matter so much.

      As for all these countries that are criticizing us, they can stick it where the sun don’t shine. I was watching O’reilly the other night and a viewer from England wrote in trashing the U.S. gun laws and obsession with violence, bragging about England’s lack of violence as some sort of triumph. O’reilly basically said that the reason there are so few guns in England was because the monarchy outlawed them. Why? To prevent the people of England from doing what Americans did to the King during the Revolutionary War. Gotta like that.

    10. sanity says:

      I am with Baklava on this.

      Showing this, most likely contributed to some school closings here in Michigan after threats were made on the school and they referenced VT killings – so the schools closed down.

      Could it have been a prank? Sure, someone could be using this as a sick joke to help get out of school.

      Could it be real? Yes, copycats, are out there, they too crave the limelight – and seeing this “manifesto” and the limelight and press coverage this sicko gets can and possibly will lead to others trying to imitate the same thing.

      now, does that mean NBC shouldn’t show it? No, I think they could have been more sensitive and careful with their showing – select peices and referencing the rest.

      I also think it was in bad taste to push that coverage as much as they did, showing everything they could get their hands on for ratings – then expect the survivors, the parents of the slain, ect to come on and talk to them when all they are doing is doing what this maniac wandted them to do. Glorifing what he has done by giving it all the press he wanted.

      Newsbusters hasa great analogy added to one of their stories:

      Lemme make an analogy here:

      Ever watched a baseball game on say, WTBS or WGN, when some asshat jumps on the field?

      What happens?

      The producers of the game pull their cameras off the field. They focus on the broadcast booth. They focus on the dugouts. They focus on the bullpen.

      In other words, they don’t give the person looking to get themselves on tv by making an ass out of himself on the field, the air time he wishes.

    11. Drewsmom says:

      I guess nbc had to show them but I wonder how long they had it before they aired it. I listened to that wack job and what I wanted to know is what did these innocent victims do to him? Sounded like he hated upper middle and rich kids and he want on about how they spilled his blood and compared himself to Jesus. It just confused me and I’m sure it was most painful to the poor parents. I won’t watch anymore. He wanted fame and he sure is getting it now — its still pretty much on 24/7 on all the networks.

    12. Ryan says:

      They should not have shown the video.

    13. Bryan says:

      I think even though NBC edited down the video, they showed too much. I especially don’t like the way these images are played over and over a million times. One commenter said people need to know there’s evil in the world, well if 9/11 and the War on Terror doesn’t get you clued in, then you’re hopeless. The worst of all was Larry King on CNN, where he was virtually asking a surviver how it felt to see a bullet go through his professor’s head. King should get imussed for that.

    14. CZ says:

      What bothers me the most is how the MSM have now “branded” this evil scum of society as a “SHOOTER”!

      Not a murderer, not a criminal but a “SHOOTER”! No agenda here folks, nope.

      Basketball players, golfers and folks who enjoy competetive shooting sports are called shooters.

      THIS SCUM can only be described as MURDERER!!! Nothing less!

    15. Drewsmom says:

      Bryan, I have noticed that larry king asks the most stupid questions. It is painful to watch this man as he is an awful interviwer. How his show has survived this long on cnn is a mystery to me, he just doesn’t seem to know how to frame his questions. But I suppose cnn lets this slide cuz all the libs love to go on his show and they never get hard questions from larry. cnn only grills conservatives. Why am I NOT surprized????[-(

    16. sanity says:

      CZ States:

      What bothers me the most is how the MSM have now “branded” this evil scum of society as a “SHOOTER”!

      Not a murderer, not a criminal but a “SHOOTER”! No agenda here folks, nope.

      Basketball players, golfers and folks who enjoy competetive shooting sports are called shooters.

      THIS SCUM can only be described as MURDERER!!! Nothing less!

      The reason they have labeled him “shooter” is most likely due to the gun controversy – it implies someone who shoot, someone who shoots a gun.

      That is why I think they have used shooter instead of murderer or mass murderer, or maniac killer..ect.

    17. Marshall Art says:

      There is no right or need to know such things. It does not benefit the general public in any way. It’s not like folks are going to delve into his psyche as if they’re a bunch of Sigman Freuds. It’s sick voyerism to even care to watch this scumbag. Mental health professionals may have a use for such videos, as of course law enforcement people. We’ll be fine with a brief description of his motives, if any, and the rest is exploitation.