“If it bleeds it leads” is a cliché which plumbed new depths the other day with the suicide of a car-jacker live on Fox. It was remarkable that after the horrible medium close up which absolutely allowed we the audience to experience the clearly distressed and who knows crazy car-jacker shoot himself in the head the talking head explained that as the offender pulled off the road they went to a delay so that they would be able to intercept anything inappropriate, presumably in anticipation of just this kind of episode, either way the delay didn’t go into effect. A mortified Sam Sheperd (the Fox presenter) explained that there were many cases when they prevented us from being exposed to content which is “just wrong.” The problem was that their technology went wrong and they ran the death live. What he didn’t apologize for was the basic premise that this kind of garbage is even news in the first place. A car chase (unless the chase has just assassinated the president) isn’t news, it certainly isn’t real time news worthy of interrupting other coverage. I live in sunny So Cal and we get a lot of this kind of local news dreck out here. This seem to be more of a west coast phenomena, (this episode happened in Arizona) I don’t remember this being anywhere near as prevalent on the east coast perhaps because the denser airspace makes helicopter pursuit much less common.
We watch the criminal or crazy drive (typically at a sedate pace) through the streets of a city chased by the police for exactly the same reasons so many watch NASCAR….for the opportunity to watch something go wrong live. The fact that the dead man’s children were able to watch their father die on YouTube makes the whole thing even more repellant. It’s a kind of blood sport…and it’s entirely unsurprising that the news pariahs cover the games because we watch the games. I’m reasonably sure we could see public executions on pay per view…that doesn’t mean we should. Stick to covering juggling dogs, Dancing With The Stars and other high profile news stories, car chases aren’t news…move on.