Pandering on Cho Images; Public Forum on Race, Gender and Imus Thursday
Fox News Channel's entire business plan is built on pandering to its audience, so I wasn't surprised to see Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace's somewhat sanctimonious announcement that his program would not feature any images of Virginia Tech shooter Sueng-Hui Cho.
After all, the mothership channel had already overloaded on images of the young psychopath, dropping use of images from the video package he sent to NBC News late last week once backlash began to build over the flood of pictures the shooter clearly intended to deliver to the media.
"If, like us, you are tired of the attention Cho Sueng-Hui has received, attention he apparently craved,you will understand the decision we've made," Wallace intoned at the start of Sunday's show. "Over the next hour, you will not see a single picture of the killer."
What this is intended to accomplish, besides denying the few audience members who hadn't yet seen Cho's face the chance to learn what he looked like, I'm not sure. Cho is already a household name, immortalized by a week of non-stop news coverage and the horror of his crimes. His picture is already all over newspapers, magazines, TV screens and the Internet, just as he intended.
The fact is, journalists have to report the news. And while I think you an certainly argue that news outlets should have been more responsible in using the images Cho provided when they first surfaced, the responsible course now is to use the images in moderation -- not ignore them to score points with your viewers.
Sopranos/Cho Tie In?
I almost hate to mention it, but I was pretty unnerved by how closely actor Ken Leung resembled Cho in last night's Sopranos episode. Leung is a way cool actor with a growing list of interesting credits (He was the Quill guy in the last X-Men movie, for instance). so I hated to make this connection. It even sounds vaguely racist to insinuate that one of the few -- probably the only -- Asian American actor to get a significant role on the Sopranos also looks like a mass murderer who is also Asian American.
For those who didn't see, Leung played Carter Chong, a troubled young man in the same psychiatric facility as Corrado Soprano -- a sidekick to the aging gangster with persecution and anger management issues who winds up attacking the elder Soprano when he feels the old man has betrayed him.
But there he was, choking, beating and kicking Dominic Chianese's Uncle Junior in a bizarre bit of media serendipity - given that this episode probably was filmed and scheduled long before Cho conceived of his awful rampage.
Given all the media angst about evoking images of the VT shootings, my wife wondered why HBO didn't just pull the episode. But with the show on a countdown to finality that the whole world is watching, pulling an episode probably wasn't the easiest thing to do -- no matter how much one character resembled the country's worst mass murderer.
Check out this great column by Times staffer Chuin-Wei Yap on his feelings of shame after learning the VT shooter was Asian American.
DEGGANS Media Tour Takes Shape
I'll be taking to the airwaves this week to drum up awareness of the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists' public forum Thursday on race, gender and media post-Imus -- scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday at the Campus Activities Center on USF's St. Petersburg Campus.
I'm due to appear tomorrow morning on Mark Larsen's morning show for WWBA AM 1040 at 8 a.m. tomorrow. Those of you with long memories will recall Mark's stint as late morning guy on WFLA-AM back when they had more than two local radio shows during the week.
Mostly, we're hoping to get people to turn up for this discussion which is mostly focused on getting the community talking about issues the media has debated with itself or nearly two weeks.
Feel free to join us and add to the discussion!