Wow. A very serious moment took place on MSNBC Monday morning when Joe Scarborough, host of Morning Joe, took the cable news networks (including his own network MSNBC) to task for making evil lunatics like the man who killed reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward, famous.
Scarborough argues that the networks desire for ratings has led them to breathlessly cover certain events from a darkly dramatic and almost macabre perspective. This dramatization of certain kinds of crime (and other events) has played an important role in igniting several tragedies in recent months. Scarbrough believes that the way these events are being covered is prompting certain sick and demented people to attempt to “outdo” each other. Each twisted criminal wants to become more famous than the last…
Joe Scarborough: My argument, must have been a year ago is, if you go around and the countervailing attitude on cable news shows 24 hours a day are that there are white cops driving around black neighborhoods looking to shoot teenagers with their hands up in the air while they’re surrendering, then you are going to start a war on cops, that you are spreading a lie that is going to have serious fallout . . .
The focus on cops and sort of this 24/7 rush to just basically paint all cops with the same brush has led to this sort of anger.
And yeah, I do blame it on cable news. I do blame it on the churning of the past year. Nonstop churning. That leads to people wearing uniforms being a lot less safe today than they were before Ferguson . . .
I was really shocked last week to see that in the Roanoke shooting, they were actually glorifying in a perverse way the shooter. This is what the shooter’s tweet said. This is — this is where his car was. That this was his Facebook.
No. No. That’s exactly what this guy wanted.
Amy Hlomes: There is research actually to back that up. That the shooters are looking to make headlines. Are looking to become famous and are competing with previous mass shooters…
Joe Scarborough: So the cable news network that did that, and actually there were a couple that did that, they are promoting the next Roanoke-style shooting. And you can talk to experts and they will tell you that. Why this network felt the need, they were so desperate for a few rating points which really didn’t come around anyway, but were so desperate for a few ratings points that they actually gave the murderer what he wanted is absolutely sick.
I am not going to argue with Joe on this, especially as he is criticizing MSNBC (because hey, MSNBC is in CONSTANT need of being criticized). However, I will quibble with just one aspect of this discussion. Joe is right, the news networks have played a role in the seemingly increasing nature of these violent acts… but they are not at fault for them.
While these evil nutjobs certainly have the media in mind when planning and carrying out their acts of mayhem, at the end of the day, the only person responsible for their actions is the perpetrator themselves. Our actions are our own, and while the media’s sick game of covering disorder while promoting disorder has created a vicious cycle of chaos in our culture, we cannot blame them for the actions of others.
I think we should call on the media to pull back on their sensationalist coverage of these horrible events. We should demand that they report and leave the entertainment and the editorializing to others. But we should not hold them accountable for the actions of others (unless they themselves are calling for violence). We hate it when liberals blame guns for shooting deaths, let’s not blame the media for the actions of a few psychos.