The ‘Killer’ Backlash Against NBC ‘Pornography’


As Brian Williams said on Wednesday, airing the Virginia Tech shooter’s “manifesto” was a “sick business,” and has turned into more than a bit of a P.R. nightmare for the peacock network.

Here’s a brief timeline/summary of the heat on NBC:

  • Wednesday 6:00PM EST: NBC Nightly News went on the air with the video “manifesto.”
  • Thursday AM: Perhaps sensing the coming backlash, NBC defends their decision in a statement.
  • Thursday AM: Newspapers across the country splash the killer’s image across their front-pages, many including NBC News logo.
  • Thursday: Most of the backlash happens online.
  • Thursday 10:48AM EST: ABC says “once that first news cycle has passed, the repetition of it is little more than pornography.”
  • Thursday 12:28PM EST: Fox News decides to stop showing the video.
  • Thursday 5:15PM EST: Brian Williams blogs that the worst of the footage will never see the light of day.
  • Thursday 6:30PM EST:

    Brian Williams: “Good evening. Last night here on this broadcast we aired a small portion of the rants and writings and recordings of a mentally ill Virginia Tech student turned mass murderer. Today, across this country and on that campus, people reacted to what they saw…”

    Charles Gibson: “Good evening. There is new outrage, tonight, over the tragedy at Virginia Tech. And it is directed at the media. The words of the virginia tech killer were plastered across newspapers and websites today after they started airing on television last night. Raising questions — do we learn anything, seeing the hate of Seung-Hui Cho? Or do we simply play into his sick fantasies? There’s been intense reaction, on the Virginia Tech campus, among victims’ families, indeed, reaction all across the country…”

    Katie Couric: “Hello, everyone. A lot of reaction today to that video message from the Virginia Tech shooter, angry reaction aimed at news outlets, including this one, for airing portions of it. CBS News plans to use this video only on a limited basis and only when we feel it’s necessary to tell the story. Law enforcement is using it in its criminal investigation to try to understand the killer’s motives…”

  • Friday: Subject line of CNN chief Jon Klein‘s memo to staff:

    Subject: Cho video and gun pictures–NO MORE USEAGE!!!

  • Friday 7:30AM: Potentially trying to shift focus away from the massacre, NBC’s Today show devotes seven minutes to the tongue-lashing 30 Rock actor Alec Baldwin gave his daughter.