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Apr 19, 2007

Killer Coverage On The NBC News Cho

(click for full size)

What I'd like to ask NBC is, why the cold feet?

Having decided to identify yourself as "The Official Network of Deranged Homicidal Sociopaths," why did you stop half-way?   

I mean, really.  Do you think Mr. Cho would have had any problem if you had first passed these pics to your photoshop guys, scoring a little more coverage with the logo across your boy's hat, his vest, on his shirt, on his glove?

C'mon, where's your pride?

... And then, what was that rumor I heard?  Were you guys actually considering taking half the profit from the photos to fund some community mental health clinics -- since insurance (for those who can actually afford it) barely reimburses for psychological claims???

Oops, my mistake.

To view the co-sponsored slide-show, leading off with a shot of that fascinating and fortuitous express mail envelope that contained NBC's booty -- click here.  (And, to the NYT: Thanks for the warning!)

(original image: NBC via


The media's frenzied display of Cho's crazed photos and videos is every madman's dream come true. "If I kill enough people, everyone will listen to me over and over and over. I will be famous, my words and images will be broadcast across the PLANET!"

Of course, as the Bag points out, the resulting deaths are justified by the profits that will come to the news conglomerates coffers as a result of this juicy, irresistable material. Statistically is is unlikely that one of the media presidents will lose family members to the copycats who are sure to follow.

Caption: Cho exercises his right to bare arms.

You go, Bag!

The way they displayed the NBC identity,on all the photos, made it look like NBC sponsored the event. Like a promotional banner hanging on the wall. These images are f'n everywhere!

NBC did sponsor the killings by finishing the work the killer set out to do.

GE – they bring good things to life.

Brilliant! If this wasn't the most incredibly bad decision by a network I don't know what was. Why is it that the ranting of this crazy young man constitutes news? It is evidence for a criminal investigation that doesn't need to be pursued now because the perpetrator killed himself, nothing more.

I happened to see Chris Matthews talking to a VT student last night just about the time that they were begining to show the pictures. What was maddening was he asked her to comment. On what?! Just because there is a picture or video of something doesn't make it news. It's like all those southern California car chase pictures taken from helicopters.

Finally, I have been saying this for days now -- a 30+ person Massacre takes place two or three times a day in Baghdad. Where's the grief for all the innocents that die there every day? We have to do something about the culture of violence that is taking over our world. Maybe the networks could think a little less about selling soap and a little more about fostering peace and reason.

Is there any wonder why there is such a resistance to the model of democracy in Iraq? The occupation might is what the nuclear superpower can only offer!
The occupation forces offer no compassion to Iraqi people!
And the dollars? Can they pay for the lives lost and renew the culture destroyed by military machine? Is it the offer of a replacement by US culture!
What positive news has been on the front pages of the newspapers?
What great news about this "democracy" has been recently written up?
Cho was made in USA. The slides show hi-tech and cruel meaness one can see in military video games "America's Army" and in reality of offensive actions in Iraq. The virtual battlefields and army dress-ups are in fashion. Any time in Iraq you can see military kicking in the doors and ready to shoot. This is how Cho posed - no mercy to innocent victims...a copycat!

Right on, BAG! I couldn't agree more.

Why does Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" or, for that matter, Kander and Ebbs' "Chicago" have to keep being relevant?

Can't we have been entertained by the truth of the entertainment aspect of tragedy to no longer find it entertaining?

As a journalist, I say, let all news and images that matter to telling the story out. But we have human beings as editors to decide whether this matters. Do we suddenly understand that this guy who killed all those people and injured more is psycho thanks to photos like this? No. But will this be some people's ironic MySpace photo in a couple weeks? Ayup.

REPORTER: “So tell us, Marshal Zhukov, how was it that you were able to defeat the great soldiers of the German Army?

GENERAL ZHUKOV: “ Great soliders? Nyet!

...great executioners, da.

And people wonder why I don't like to go to shoot-em-up movies or horror films.

Hell, we live it every day in America. And even more so now with our sequel in Iraq....

Oh, I don't watch television news anymore either. Why bother, it's the same show every day. Now with more violence!

And then there are idiots like Jack Thompson complaining about violence in video games - does he watch the news? Go to movies? It's all such an integrated part of our culture, after all.

Stupid country.

Remember Paddy Chaevsky's Network? Terrorist actions for entertainment?
Art is always so far ahead of public awareness of cultural trends. We just slide, as a civilization, into acceptance of behavior that a prior generation would have totally rejected. We are shocked, yes, but we still consume it, don't we? Even here, as we analyze it.....

yes...this culture ‘produces consumers’, margaret; the consumer *IS* the product.

My first reaction was to ask how were the pictures taken. It seems like a lot of posturing and rehearsal to get it right if he had to take the photos himself.

"The ManCHOrian Candidate"

I am disgusted by the use of that pic in your ad on other sites (had never been here before), though I agree with the post that accompanied it. To this newcomer, it looked as if you were using the tragedy in the same way that NBC was.

Bag, you're being too harsh on poor NBC. They announced today that they will only show this material for 6 minutes each hour on MSNBC. I think they have made their apologies and I'm certain they will report to the Betty Ford Clinic next week for rehab.

Also worthy of note:

How do these people entitle themselves to kill the innocent? I was looking at the photos and the bios of the victims and I kept thinking "the best and the brightest" killed by a fool.
Airing the murderers propaganda video revictimised all of us.
I felt violated having to see it, before I changed the channel.

First Bush, now NBC--America is the land of opportunists, not opportunity, it seems.

By airing this they are doing what Cho wants, he was never anything but an attention grubbing little monster. Now he's got all the post mortem attention anybody could crave. By validating his methods, NBC becomes responsible for the next victims as others emulate Cho's tactics.

They should have given the material to the police and not succumbed to the ratings temptation. Bas***ds.

A friend of mine pointed out that it was a mystery to him why Cho was even still in the university, much less closing in on a degree. His writing is apparently pretty darn awful, but his professors were too afraid of him to flunk him. He stalked his female classmates. He was caught taking cellphone pictures under girls' dresses in class, and was so disruptive that one class of 70 students was reduced to 7 in a few weeks. The other 63 were so afraid of him they stopped coming to lectures. His writing was so clearly psychotic he was referred for counseling. Somebody else has already mentioned the one prof who called for guards outside her classroom when he was in there.

It's very strange the way the English dept. handled this. They have some 'splainin to do.

I've seen profs intimidated by clearly litigious students/parents, esp. of minorities to an extent they let really substandard work slide. Once I even taught a writing class where a graduating senior, an African American, was actually illiterate. But he always threatened to sue, and teachers were told to pass him. But clearly criminal/violent students? come on. That's taking it a bit far.

"And now we will leave these graphic and disturbing images (Cho-pics) and show a photograph from Iraq, No its not graphic" says he as the co-anchor chirps "its beautiful"!
This beauty is the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, a multi-purpose $ 20 million dollar killing machine. Inside its plexiglas fuselage is a large poster displaying the Virginia Tech logo. (-CNN TV)
Is this, subliminal messaging from a warfare state under siege at home and abroad ?
Is it a beautiful image for Iraqis ?

was it sontag? ...regarding the pain of others? anyhoo i read something, somewhere (it was as good as she woulda) and it was all about the evolution of war trophy images/photos.

they've always existed, EverSince WayBackWhen. but, they evolve. For instance, they usedta be, well, private stuff; stuff you'd find stuffed inna box somewhere inna garage, after gran'pa had gone an' died, and you were goin' through all his shit, and there'd be these pictures in there, from The War they were in, then, and...!

Mostly, what we see of true horror is pictures from "photographers". They were, well ~ well composed. And you know ~ war trophy photos, from the fearsome poses in the barracks to the rotting corpses on the battlefields ~ that was usually private, n'est-ce pas?

but nowadays everyone has a camera : soldiers are the only true photo-journalists.

indeed i submit to you that the photo-journalist, if not now obsolete ~ is obviously impotent. i mean, the best he can muster is an arty shot of a staged event; stenography? but i digress...

...the point is, not only do the soldiers today (on both sides ;-) record all this stuff ~ they do so with the intention of disseminating it; propagataing it. Same old war trophy images, but an entirely different culture thereof, "consume this!" thus, they demand of us.

as for MSNBC : you've been scooped !

Scoop : “...A scoop is typically a new story, or a new aspect to an existing or unfolding story... ‘to scoop’ (v.) is perhaps likely to raise the notoriety of the journalist in question.

[A] journalist making a scoop is likely to be the first one doing so; Therefore, scoops tend to be exclusives for the journalist making them. However important or original a story is, if it is distributed by many sources it is not generally considered a scoop for any of the [subsequent] journalists participating.

I think the NBC News logo is in poor taste. I don't know if it's just coincidence, but the way the color matches what he's wearing makes it look even worse.

But I'm not sure I can blame them for showing the video and pictures. This story has gotten blanket coverage for days now - every aspect of it - so why should this be singled out as something not to be shown? People are obviously fascinated with the story and they're trying to find out every detail about the guy, and this is right from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

I wonder how many other Chos are out there. You'd think that after all the other school shootings, all the media coverage about the profile of school shooters, etc., that something would have been done about this guy. Other students were worried about him, professors were worried about him, he was sent for psychiatric evaluation... what does it take?

I wonder how he got as far as being ready to graduate, too, and I also wonder how he got admitted in the first place. Maybe he had good grades, but don't you have to have some kind of an interview, or recommendations from high school teachers, or something? Did his high school teachers give him references, even though he never spoke? I can sympathize with shyness, but if someone has reached university age and doesn't speak, that's a problem.

Was he getting ready to graduate in the next month or so? Was that what triggered this - because he must have worried that his future wasn't too bright.

I didn't see NBC's coverage or use of the video or stills from it. So I can't comment on that.

With that said, I wonder how, if at all, they could have used the images more responsibly, if, as seems to put forth here, they were merely used to futher line GE's pockets?

In my heart, I agree with the appraisal that this material from Cho was evidence, not fodder. That said, I'm a bit uncomfortable with NBC making the decision what to broadcast and what to hold back. I can, for instance, see a model where NBC could make this material available to public, the public that wanted to view it, and not have broadcast it to everyone. I think there is a case to be made that in another circumstance, NBC withholding material like this would be an abrogation of their responsibility.

Of course, being NBC I have no trouble believing they did it with all zest and taste of the whores they are...

ALL the networks showed this exact same video. NBC just covered it first. They are ALL guilty of the same thing. They are also leading the charge to attack NBC for doing the what they also did! Don't let these news stations lead you around like sheep.

This guy looks like he's right out of DieHard 3 or something. Too bad he's dead, maybe Spielberg or Ridley Scott could've signed him up.

How much more machismo can this photo be? I mean, is it possible to show his face and not also have to show his casually slanted hips? Why not cut the photo off at the waist, isn't that newsworthy enough? Does the gun and the dick go together in one manly package?

One poster said Cho was american-made. And you're right. He was bred on this stuff. This is all from our culture. That's why I almost laughed out loud when I heard an expert on tv say that Cho's stance and presentation was modeled after Al He compared some photos. I saw no similarity at all.

How stupid do they think we are.


I have to disagree with the Bag, readers here, and most of the blogosphere's commentary on this issue: I don't think NBC was wrong to air what they did.

Why do supposedly intelligent progressive/liberal people (such as on this forum) support the suppression of information? Since when is ignorance bliss?

Why should NBC act as a nanny for us all and decide what is or isn't safe for us to view? What other harmful and/or offensive things should TV networks protect us from? Should they not show us images of an out-of-control brush fire set by an arsonist for fear it would encourage more arsonists and hurt the feelings of the fire's victims? Should they not show images of hamburgers for fear of offending vegetarians?

And, finally why is it perfectly acceptable for NBC (or any other network) to depict every manner of violence, blood and gore on television after 9 p.m. but not before?

If anyone needs assistance dismounting their high horse, I suggest they try a little intellectual honesty.

The media played parts of Cho's manifesto because some people, like me, actually wanted to see it. Because, as humans, we have a natural curiousity about the horrible things other humans are capable of. Because we want to know what goes on in the sick mind of a deranged killer. (Just ask Anthony Hopkins--he's managed to make a nice living off our curiosity.)

wisechick I disagree. Just how did you get into the mind of a killer by viewing his pre-packaged portfolio of himself, posing, looking and talking tough, all dressed up for the part? You're just a consumer in that role.

You don't think some kid out there thought, wow that looks cool? You don't think that the lesson learned was that you kill people and become infamous? Cho got his reward.

And the network was rewarded too, with glossy pics and sounds bites. The viewers, though, as usual, were short-changed.

What did we ever learn about the killers from Colombine? Did we learn anything about what rejection, bullying and gay-taunting does to children? Or adults? Are we a nation more tolerant and embracing of difference? No, we elected a bully to office, and collectively we went on a rights-stripping campaign for gays and women.

In either killing, was there a national conversation on gun control? On mental illness? In Cho's case, he stalked young women. Is there any conversation going on about that and how men who stalk women, or beat their ex girlfriends are a red flag as a danger to society at large?

Are we talking about ANYTHING? Learning ANYTHING? Or are we just getting off on glossy photos and satisfying our morbid curiosity?

Hey hey, hey hey we're the NRA
And you won't take our guns away.
Our powder's dry and the fuse is lit
And we won't stand for your librul shit.

We got the word from Jesus Christ
To make sure all you guys get iced.
Our dicks are small but our guns are big
And we won't take your crap, you dig?

Even Charlton, who once played Moses,
hates all gun laws and supposes
All you commies will one day be
Blasted to red's eternity.

When we've got our favorite Glock
Our manhood all will dare not mock,
And don't forget you panzy smartie
That we belong to God's Own Party

And when at last the Big Guy calls
And takes us to those heavenly halls
John Wayne will greet us with a smile
And say to us in his own style:

"Hey hey, hey hey you're the NRA
And they won't take your guns away
Your powder's dry and the fuse is lit
And you won't stand for their librul shit."

NBC went way overboard. Mass murder has become a trope in our culture and the media bear some responsibility.

There's now an established script for disgruntled individuals: "Avenge" your grievances by taking out as many people as possible before turning the gun on yourself. Become an instant celebrity.

We can tell that the trope is already deeply ingrained because Cho made his own press kit which he found time to mail to NBC between the first and second rounds of shooting.

When NBC airs that footage, what message is it sending to every other deranged creep looking for his 15 minutes of fame?

I'm a First Amendment purist. NBC had the legal right to broadcast that material. However, the news value was outweighed by the potentially destructive impact of giving a domestic terrorist a platform.

"I'm a First Amendment purist."

With all due respect, Lindsay, this tragedy is not about the First Amendment. It's about the Second Amendment.

Our "coverage" of the news coverage, therefore, is irrelevant.

Why is an actual killer talking about a violent act more likely to be copied than actually viewing the acts played out by actors? So 24 does not cause violent behavior but this idiot mumbling into a camera does? Censorship is censorship, even when you disagree with the message, and sadly even when that message is wrong.

The problem of copycats comes not from hearing this idiot speak; it comes from the unending coverage and obsession of our media. It's the 24/7 coverage of the story, over and over and over that leads to copycat crimes.

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