Dead Foreigners are Good for Ratings, but Not Dead Americans: Dave Lindroff

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Marine Dying in Afghanistan (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Bringing out someone else’s dead, as long as they’re from another country, is fine on network television, writes Dave Lindroff at The Public Record. But forget about it if the deceased are Americans, especially those in uniform fighting terrorists overseas.

Lindroff has taken exception to NBC’s decision last week to show, without reservation, the grisly footage of Notar Kumaritashvili, the 21-year-old luge rider from Georgia who died at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Network officials said they aired the video of Kumaritashvili being thrown from the track and smashing into a steel pole in the name of public safety—“never mind that almost nobody rides a luge”—so that Americans are aware of how dangerous the sport really is.
But NBC’s don’t-try-this-at-home justification rang hollow to Lindroff, who points out that the network criticized the Associated Press’ decision last year to publish photos of a dying U.S. Marine in Afghanistan. The AP was out of bounds, according to NBC and other major media outlets, because the news service printed the images against the wishes of Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard’s family.
But did NBC do the same with Kumaritashvili’s relatives and ask them for permission before showing the luger’s death? No.
“The word for this kind of nonsense is hypocrisy,” writes Lindroff. “Another word is capitalism. Blood and gore sell, and this tape meant great ratings for NBC.”
He further adds that “when it comes to war, politics intervenes. The military and its political handmaidens in Congress and the White House don’t think that showing the authentic gore of American casualties that occur daily in the course of our bloody imperial adventures is a good idea. It might get Americans to thinking too hard about those wars, and about whether we ought to be fighting them. And so NBC, and most of the rest of the US media, politely keep those images safely abroad.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Gore Sells, But Not American Gore (by Dave Lindorff, Public Record)


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