I used to work in the news media and NBC blew it on this one:
A survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings said she walked off NBC’s “Meet the Press” set crying on Friday after they used the alleged bombers’ names.
Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost part of her leg from injuries sustained in the bombings last year, tweeted on Friday she walked off the set crying after they used the names of the alleged bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Her Tweet said: “Cannot believe @meetthepress chose to use the bombers name instead of respect their guest. Had to walk off set crying.”
This was initially NBC’s statement, as reported by Politico (linked above). Did this have to happen? Her request to NBC at first glance seems a problematic one for them to have observed but it was, in fact, not impossible
An NBC News spokesperson said Haslet-Davis had requested they not use the names of the bombers, but that they “couldn’t make that guarantee.”
“Adrianne Haslet-Davis is an inspiring survivor with an important story to share. She was due to take part in a roundtable discussion for Meet the Press with three other participants. She requested that the alleged bombers’ name not be used in the entire program, but given the nature of the discussion we couldn’t make that guarantee. We regret any distress caused by this miscommunication,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
This was not a case of a news source insisting vital information be with held from a segment. They could have said that in deference to the wishes of one of the wounded and a request by one of them they were not going to mention the suspects names. And then they could have told her that somehow they would work in the names of the bombers at the end of the program.
This wasn’t a case of a news source asking to see and approve a story in advance. Or to pull a news story, or cut part of a segment. Or withhold an absolutely essential fact that the audience does not know. This was a case of NBC news having the decency and humanity to just hold off mentioning the names for the bulk of the show.
This is precisely why so much of the American public hates the press — a feeling that is actually not warranted because most reporters would try to find a way to work through this kind dilemma, and get their story and facts. They wouldn’t coldly disregard a news source’s request made in advance with a “well we could not honor that request” — as if NBC was a lawyer at a trial citing a clause, or city zoning department run by bureaucratic, code-citing hacks.
And if she stormed off, will this prove to be a case where its: “Hey, that’s great television! Let’s put her walk out on the Today Show! This is great stuff!”
On the other hand, if the segment shows her storming off crying, then, the struggling Meet the Press host David Gregory who’s presiding over the sinking Meet the Press franchise, will get surely more publicity.
Gregory is not going to increase his long term ratings with this incident. He’s going to find more and more people will not tune in because he personally disgusts them, correctly or not. And that big segment of the public that prizes passion over the journalist “get” — getting a big notorious person to do an interview, or getting someone to show strong emotions on camera — will feel they’d rather watch the slicker ” This Week with George Stephanopoulos” ABC Sunday show or our 21st century Walter Cronkite descendant Bob Schieffer on CBS’ venerable and journalistically solid “Face the Nation.”
That this incident was not the kind Gregory or NBC wants is clear from these tweets:
I'm so sorry @AdrianneHaslet was upset tdy + had a bad experience w MTP. As I told her, her comfort level is far more imp than any show
— David Gregory (@davidgregory) April 11, 2014
This Tweet would not have been issued if there wasn’t a feeling at NBC that they faced a delicate situation that perhaps could have been handled more professionally. But, hey, they got publicity by having her storm off and cry.
Now Meet the Press knows it will get a bigger rating this Sunday if viewers only had to choose to tune in and see Gregory and his normal show. Now let’s see on Sunday if Meet the Press mentions this and how they do it if they do.
Let’s see if The Today Show features the incident and (surprise) has her on to respond to an incident created by NBC News itself. That will speak more volumes than any NBC CYA statements, or Gregory pro forma “I-really-do-care-honestly_ tweets. Twitter is abuzz:
— SOTUD.com (@SOTUDcom) April 12, 2014
Boston Marathon survivor upset at 'Meet the Press' Walks off set http://t.co/iOyph0rcEQ Asked not to mention suspects dames. Disgraceful NBC
— Thomas Del Beccaro (@tomdelbeccaro) April 12, 2014
— Hardline Stance (@Hardline_Stance) April 11, 2014
— Conservative Voice (@CV_People) April 12, 2014
— Garland John Gates (@garlandgates) April 12, 2014
— Mike Sikorski (@RealtyOneMike) April 12, 2014
— Marcy Lauren Backup (@marcylauren2) April 12, 2014
— Adriana Gale Cohen (@AdrianaCohen16) April 12, 2014
— Dan Kennedy (@dankennedy_nu) April 12, 2014
PERSONAL NOTE: I covered some tragedies when I was a fulltime reporter. I was one of many San Diego Union staffers who were brought in to do aspects of the July 1984 San Ysidro massacre, when James Huberty walked into a McDonald’s and murdered and wounded innocent customers — and even shot an elementary school kid riding his bike outside dead. I was also brought in on the one year after series that the paper wrote.
Also: I was one of a score of reporters flown to Mexico City by the paper in 1985 to report on the aftermath of the big earthquake. I was there for a big aftershock and interviewed survivors who were looking for missing family members.
You can get a story or do a segment and still be a human being.
QUICK: Somebody tell that to NBC.