My wife and I were watching the CBS news the other day.
The anchor presented the story about the shooting of Alton Sterling. The visuals were horrible. The death of another human is always horrible.
But horrible visuals get good ratings. Good ratings let you charge more for your advertising. Advertising pays the bills for the networks. I accept it is the way the media works.
But the way this story was presented shocked me. Not the horrible death but the intentional misrepresentation of what had occurred.
Nowhere in the story did they mention that the police had been called to investigate Sterling for having threatened another citizen with a handgun. Nowhere in the story did they mention that other non-lethal force had been used in an attempt to disarm Sterling.
Nowhere in the story did they mention that Sterling was prohibited from carrying a firearm due to his prior felony convictions and time spent in state prison. Nowhere in the story did they mention that Sterling did have a loaded firearm on his person.
The news anchor let the edited video roll and inferred that white police officers had killed a black man without cause.
Instead of reporting facts obtained through a cursory investigation of the incident CBS cut to Facebook video of women in other states with no real knowledge of the incident emotionally decrying the murder of young black men by police officers.
I asked my wife to turn off the TV and asked her if she could figure out the network’s motives. It was obviously misrepresenting the facts to boost ratings.
But could it really be so morally bankrupt as to put public safety in danger to boost their ratings? Could CBS leaders not know that their yellow journalism would excite the borderline psychotics to act out? I told my wife that CBS news was going to get people killed.
The next day I saw the same news anchor looking sad holding his mike in Dallas, talking about the death of the police officers. I submit he was holding that mike with bloody hands.
Our press is free, and that is as it should be. But the obligation to investigate and report facts is a moral imperative. Without responsibility the increase in network profits will be the cost of public safety.
Thomas J. Hickey