While covering a car chase in Phoenix, Fox News had the chase on a 5 second tape delay, but still showed a man committing suicide live on the air.
Here is how TVNewser described the events,
A man committed suicide live on Fox News a few minutes ago. FNC had been carrying a car chase in the Phoenix area and when the suspect pulled over, he ran down a dirt road, then stopped, put a gun to his head, and fell to the ground. No other national networks were carrying the chase.
When the man first exited the car, anchor Shepard Smith said presciently “You wait for the end of these things and you worry how they may end.” Viewers could hear Studio B crew members, who were watching a live feed of what was happening, gasp and Smith say, “Get off, get off, get off,” asking the control room to cut away. But they didn’t in time.
Here is video of Shep Smith yelling at his crew to cut away from the suicide and his subsequent apology, (You can find the video of the suicide on YouTube. It will not be published here.)
Smith personally apologized to the audience, “Well, I’ve got some some explaining to do. While we were taking that car chase and showing it to you live, when the guy pulled over and got out of the vehicle, we went on delay. So that’s why I didn’t talk for about 10 seconds. We created a five-second delay, as if you were to bleep back your DVR five seconds, that’s what we did with the picture we were showing you, so we would see in the studio what was happening five seconds before you did, so that if anything went horribly wrong, we’d be able to cut away from it without subjecting you to it. And we really messed up. And we’re all very sorry. That didn’t belong on TV. We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV. And I personally apologize to you that that happened.”
Fox News screws up a lot, but this one was inexcusable. They already had the feed on a delay. They should have cut it off, but it seems like somebody wasn’t paying attention and let it run for too long. Poor Shep Smith did everything he could to get them to cut away, but in the era of literally car chase cable news, it was only a matter of time before this happened.
Why was Fox News covering a car chase in Phoenix? Were they hoping for something bad to happen? Were they looking for some good television? Let’s face it, ever since OJ’s White Bronco some segments of cable news have been flat out infatuated with car chases.
This was an irresponsible screw up from an industry that has become so obsessed with speed over facts and judgment that cable news often looks more like reality television.
It is time for cable news to stop entertaining and start informing.