Welcome to the Olympics everyone, now watch someone die! (good going, NBC)
by Chris K,posted Feb 16 2010 5:17PM
This news is obviously a few days old at this point, but I haven't been on the air since NBC's inexplicable decision to air the video of the Georgian luger's death to a national audience, and now that I've had a few days to process that decision, I'm still just as appalled as I was Friday night when it all unfolded before my eyes. Within minutes of beginning their Opening Ceremonies broadcast Friday night, NBC announcers Bob Costas and Matt Lauer (who were at the venue where the ceremonies would shortly commence) passed off to the network's Nightly News anchor, Brian Williams, to report on the luge tragedy. I guess this was supposed to put it in a "news" context, which they felt must have made the video acceptable to air. Was the event newsworthy? Absolutely. Should it have been discussed? Absolutely. Should we have been shown a man dying before our eyes on the television screen? Absolutely not. Just because a video exists does not mean a news organization should feel compelled to show it. In my opinion, they could have shown the crash, but not its aftermath, the young man flying out of the luge track at well over 90 MPH and slamming into the immovable object which would claim his life, a metal support pole. Instead, they showed it all. Twice. In slow motion. Call me crazy, but I assumed that NBC would have warned me before showing someone dying. They did not. Williams did claim that "the following video will be disturbing to many." At that point, I still figured NBC would have the class to show just a portion of the video, perhaps the crash itself without the tragic catapulting result, and then in good taste instruct people to go to their website to view the rest of the sad and horrific video. But no, to my surprise, the luger's death played out right in front of my eyes. In the first five minutes of their first Olympic broadcast! One would have to imagine their were many, many American families tuning in for an evening of opening ceremonies. That's not exactly something I'd want children to witness.
I'm sure some of you may be telling me to lighten up, and that people would have found a way to watch it anyway. I would respond by saying, yes, I know they will. By finding it on the internet. That is what the internet is for. For better or worse, the net has become a place to search and find videos of pretty much anything you could imagine. Sadly, I'm sure you could watch plenty of deaths on the internet. If you were looking for it. And that's my point. Not that the luge video should be destroyed, but that it only be shown under appropriate circumstances, and with a major warning going in. The first five minutes of the Opening Ceremonies broadcast was definitely not an appropriate setting. I believe NBC was horribly irresponsible by not specifically informing me that they were about to air video of the luger dying. And I believe the network must have received a massive number of complaints because the following night, on Saturday, when Bob Costas was going into another report about the luge incident, he made it a point to mention the fact that they would NOT be showing the death during this report. Feeling guilty much, NBC?