WBBM Takes Four-Year-Old’s Quote Out of Context

By Merrill Knox 

WBBM, the CBS O&O in Chicago, is under fire this week for airing a soundbite from a four-year-old interviewed on the scene of a drive-by shooting out of context.

A freelance photographer asked a young boy who was near the crime scene if he was scared by the violence in the neighborhood, and if he would “stay away from all these guns” when he grew up. The boy said, “No — I’m going to have me a gun!” (The exchange comes at the :38 mark of the above video.)

What the video doesn’t show you is the exchange that followed, in which the boy revealed that his plans to have a gun were because he wants to be a police officer. The reporter can be heard saying, “Oh, that’s okay then.” That portion of the video (which can be seen at the 1:00 mark, above) was edited out by WBBM, but was sent to The Maynard Institute, blurred slightly in an attempt to protect the identity of the young boy.

Shawnelle Richie, WBBM’s communications director, gave TVSpy a statement from the station via email:

We accept responsibility for the mistakes that were made, both in the reporting and editing of the story. The video of the child should not have aired. As soon as news management identified the problem, they took immediate steps to ensure that the video would not air in subsequent newscasts. In addition, we have followed up with our employees to make sure that we all have learned from the mistakes that were made.