I thought I would start this off with this advisory: the purpose of this thread is to discuss NBC's decision to air the Cho video
As it happens I am listening to the book "Mindhunter" by John Douglas and Mark Olsbaker.
Mindhunter enters the minds of some of the country's most notorious serial killers to tell the real-life story of the Investigative Support Unit (ISU) -- the FBI's special force that has assisted state and local police in cracking some of the country's most celebrated serial murder and rape cases. The unit specializes in understanding the chemistry and mechanical workings of the brain's of these serial criminals, and did its homework by interviewing such murderers as Charles Manson and David Berkowitz (the Son of Sam). John Douglas, who worked for the FBI for 25 years, is an authority on the unit, and his book combines the best of nonfiction with that of a murder mystery
A couple of notes:
1. I believe it was a grevious error in judgement for NBC to air the video - in whole or in part. I think it would have been appropriate to air one or two simple photographs of Cho - a close up of the face without the guns, hammer, shooting vest or contorted facial expressions.
You can contact the following if you agree:
Note - there is a period between their first and last names
2. From the book there are two very interesting points that apply to this topic
A. Serial killers do have their heroes and want to be like other serial killers or better - the Son of Sam killer was referenced by the BTK killer
B. Cho appears to have been an assassin type killer - the book states that "If you want to know the artist study his work." It seems obvious after the fact but the trates are there - read the book . SoI think you can expect a future mass killing to reference Cho or at least to learn from his experience.
C. Expect more videos from serial killers to be sent to the news media.
3. "Today" host Matt Lauer says there are big differences of opinion within NBC News about whether any of the material should be aired at all.He says the decision to show some of the material was made because it may help people understand or answer the question: why did it happen?
This is a weak argument for doing what NBC did and I think they are grasping for straws.
4. NBC's reasoning:
We believe it provides some answers to the critical question, "why did this man carry out these awful murders?"
Would they have aired a tape from a child molester/killer telling why he did it; his anger and enjoyment of the crime so that the public could understand it?
The decision to run this video was reached by virtually every news organization in the world, as evidenced by coverage on television, on Web sites and in newspapers. We have covered this story — and our unique role in it — with extreme sensitivity, underscored by our devoted efforts to remember and honor the victims and heroes of this tragic incident. We are committed to nothing less.
Other people did it so it is OK for us to do it; we also did it with sensitivity.
Decision to air gunman Cho's video has immediate repercussions for NBC News
Thursday, April 19, 2007
NEW YORK (AP) - NBC News' decision to air some of the video and pictures sent by Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui has immediate repercussions for the network.
Family members of victims have cancelled their plans to appear on NBC's "Today" show. One of the show's hosts, Meredith Vieira, says the family members "were very upset" with NBC for airing the images.
Cho, 23, sent a package filled with rambling, hate-filled video and written messages, and several pictures of him posing with a gun, to NBC News on the morning of his killing rampage.
It arrived in the mail Wednesday, and contents began airing on the network with the "Nightly News."
"Today" host Matt Lauer says there are big differences of opinion within NBC News about whether any of the material should be aired at all.
He says the decision to show some of the material was made because it may help people understand or answer the question: why did it happen?
But he says NBC feels strongly that "this is not some kind of video that we need to run in some kind of endless loop," and that NBC would "severely limit" what it airs.
The decision of what the public sees, however, isn't entirely in NBC's hands.
ABC and CBS began running some of the material almost immediately in their evening news broadcasts Wednesday after recording it off NBC. The images were also shown extensively on cable news networks.
Cho's package, with "A. Ishmail" and a Blacksburg, Va., return address on it, arrived at NBC News on Wednesday and was immediately flagged by security. NBC had previously reported that Cho had the words "Ismail Ax" scrawled in red ink on his arm during the rampage.
NBC didn't show it for several hours at the request of Virginia State Police, who wanted to see it for their investigation.
There was no indication of why Cho chose NBC News for his message, NBC national security reporter Pete Williams said. A Postal Service time stamp shows it was mailed at 9:01 a.m. Monday, during the two hours between his first shooting at a Virginia Tech dorm and his massacre at a classroom building, which he ended by killing himself.