Bin Laden Killed: LA Times Looks at TV News’ Late Night ‘Rah-Rah’ Session

By Alex Weprin Comment

The Los Angeles TimesJames Rainey looks at how TV news outlets reported the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death, and highlights some criticisms of the coverage, focusing on Fox News Channel’s Geraldo Rivera:

Rivera’s late-night rah-rah session couldn’t have more clearly illustrated what we should already know: that television journalism loves the noisiest, most photogenic moments — those that often tell us the least about what we really need to know.

When watching Fox and others covering Bin Laden’s death beginning late Sunday, it was best to listen to the words and pay less attention to the frenetic pictures. The celebratory images suggested “mission accomplished.” The words told us that the war on terror is far from over.

Rainey notes that Rivera said at one point that killing Bin Laden was bigger than man landing on the moon, and that he reported a number of facts that were plainly not true (i.e. that Bin laden was killed by a missile more than a week earlier). Though as the note wore on, the tone seemed to return to earth, albeit slightly:

Near the end of his wild and crazy night on the town, even Rivera seemed to be caught in a fleeting moment of reassessment.

He’s just made his pronouncement about Bin Laden’s death being bigger than the moon mission. But pausing to take a breath and flip the story back to anchor Bret Baier, Rivera added: “I don’t know if this is bigger than the moon landing. But this is huge, Bret.”