Chicago media writer Robert Feder gave his view on how local stations handled showing video of 17-year-old African-American Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by a white Chicago cop in October of last year.
A freelance journalist filed a Freedom Of Information Act request to get the footage released against the wishes of McDonald’s family. “This is a difficult time for us,” McDonald’s family said in a statement. “As we have said in the past, while we would prefer that the video not be released we understand that a court has ordered otherwise. . . ”
Feder credited ABC-owned WLS with “prompting Chicago police to move up the scheduled release” of the dashcam footage.
“ABC 7 Eyewitness News obtained an early copy of the Laquan McDonald video through our sources and was the first station in the market to air it,” WLS told TVSpy. “Our decision on when to air the video and how much to show was determined after a collaborative and vigorous discussion in our newsroom, balancing the need to inform our viewers with considerations for the sensitive nature of the subject matter and public safety.”
Some stations showed less restraint than others. CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 at first aired “a portion of the video that is appropriate for television, showing the initial shot from Officer Jason Van Dyke.” But halfway through its 6 p.m. newscast, CBS 2 was airing the moment of impact repetitively while the station’s freelance “legal analyst” and “security analyst” talked over it.
As expected, the most thoughtful perspective on the day’s events came from public television WTTW-Channel 11, where “Chicago Tonight” host Phil Ponce skillfully anchored a full hour on the indictment of Van Dyke for murder, the mayor’s news conference, the release of the video and the protests that followed. Exemplary work all around.
Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder Tuesday for the shooting of McDonald.
USA Today reports, “The video is at odds with a narrative pushed by the department and police union that McDonald, who prosecutors said had PCP in his system and was holding a knife with a 3-inch blade, lunged at Van Dyke before he opened fire.”
Protestors, unhappy with how the city has handled McDonald’s death, have been demonstrating for the past week. Yesterday, the Reverend Jesse Jackson vowed to escalate the protests.