Of Evening Broadcasts, Only CBS Showed Gunman’s Video of Deadly Shooting

By Chris Ariens 

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The three evening newscasts all began their broadcasts with this morning’s murder of two news staffers who were killed on live TV during a routine morning show live shot.

ABC World News Tonight produced three stories on the tragedy at WDBJ. “Something we wrestled with today, whether to grant the gunman his last wish by playing his video. We will not,” said George Stephanopoulos, filling in for David Muir. Stephanopoulos was referring to the video killer Vester Flanagan recorded while he fired upon his victims and later uploaded on his social media accounts.

ABC’s Jim Avila had the lead story reporting from Roanoke, Va. Pierre Thomas had the second story reporting on the 23-page manifesto the killer faxed to ABC News this morning. The broadcast used a still image of that manifesto, and quoted it in Thomas’ story. Linsey Davis had a deeper profile on victims Alison Parker and Adam Ward. ABC’s stories included the first moments when the bullets were fired and the sound of Parker’s screams from WDBJ’s live broadcast.

ABCManifestoNBC Nightly News also produced three stories on the tragedy. They froze the video before the bullets were fired. “We’re going to be very careful about what images we show you tonight,” said Lester Holt. One image NBC used that ABC didn’t was the perspective of the killer. NBC grabbed a still frame from Flanagan’s video.

Hallie Jackson was the lead reporter for NBC, She included some of the quotes from the manifesto sent to ABC News. Stephanie Gosk profiled Parker and Ward, and Anne Thompson reported on how social media was used, and how users reacted to the murders.

“We won’t show you the most graphic part of the shooting but we caution what you will see and hear is disturbing,” said Jane Pauley, filling in for Scott Pelley on the CBS Evening News, which chose to show the most chilling part of the whole story: the gunman’s video–a full :25 seconds of it–aired at the start of Jeff Pegues‘ lead story.

The video was stopped before the firing began. Pegues also included parts of the manifesto sent to ABC. Kris Van Cleave reported a second story profiling the victims, which included an interview with Parker’s boyfriend who is a WDBJ anchor. “Chris Hurst was supposed to be anchoring the news tonight. Instead he’s mourning the loss of his colleague and girlfriend,” Van Cleave reported.