Thursday, April 19, 2007

24-hour News and you can't rationalize irrational behavior

This was going to be a comment to Travis’ post of “To Show, Or Not To Show,” but I knew it would get long.

I don’t really have a problem with the 24 hour new organizations showing the video and photos of Cho Seung-Hui. However, I believe that line has to be drawn as to how many times you show it. I don’t understand why they don’t hype a specific show saying that they are going to show them at a certain time instead of running it over and over all day.

I believe it was CNN that had an FBI profiler on that said specifically that if these photos and videos are continued to be shown over and over and over again, there will be a copycat or copycats to go out and do just as Cho did.

Do I think it will happen, probably not, but after most all of the major school shootings there were other school shootings.

With that aside, the other aspect of this 24-hour media blitz from the campus of Virginia Tech is that all of the big time news organizations and covering this wall to wall 24-7. I wouldn’t have a problem with them discussing the facts but the speculation is down right irresponsible.

Since all of the 24 news organizations are disregarding anything unrelated to the Virginia Tech shootings, they are discussing what thing this kid came into contact with that might have made him do this. The big thing that I have a problem with is when Chris Matthews is trying to see if Cho’s suitemate believes that the video game Counterstrike made Cho do it.

Counterstrike is a game that has been played literally by millions of people all over this world for nearly 10 years. This game is that old. If you watch the video and see the photos of this kid, do you think that Counterstrike made him do this or do you think the severe mental illness had something to do with it?

But when you have to fill 24 hours of air time with discussion this type of thing comes up even though everyone knows that mental illness is to blame. And sometimes people flipping through channels only get to see one thing and that thing might some political idiot saying that a video game made him do it.

That’s like saying that someone saw him drinking a Pepsi a week before the shootings and asking questions about a 20 ounce bottle of Pepsi and its role in the killings.
The bottom line with all of this is that you can’t make a rational contingency plan for an irrational mentally ill person. It’s impossible. If you do that makes every suspicious package a bomb and multiples it by 10.

Not to long ago here in the OC we had a “suspicious” briefcase out at a local food plaza on a major parkway that runs through here. I happen to know the state trooper who responded to the call.

He looked at it and decided he would pick it up and move it to an empty lot about a half mile from there off of the parkway.

The bomb squad was called which and when all was said and done it was about a 4 or 5 hour ordeal that involved one of two robots blowing up the briefcase with a 12-gauge water cannon.
Price tags and a feather duster was in the briefcase left from a traveling manager for the toll plaza.

The trooper said that he probably would never move something like that again, but he said that if he had called the bomb squad without moving the case, they would have shut down the parkway in both directions for 5 hours.

We got the story but if he doesn’t move the case, it literally becomes a national story with helicopters over our heads.

That is a different situation, but if measures are taken to factor in irrational thought then that was a bomb and there were a dozen more just like it that we had to find.

The focus of this situation should be to educate people to see the signs of mental illness and instruct them how to handle a situation when they think a friend is having problems.

It seems to me that everyone kind of assumed that someone else would make Cho's mental issues their problem and ignored it for the most part.


Travis said...

"The focus of this situation should be to educate people to see the signs of mental illness and instruct them how to handle a situation when they think a friend is having problems.

It seems to me that everyone kind of assumed that someone else would make Cho's mental issues their problem and ignored it for the most part."

I agree with that first paragraph. We absolutely need to be more sensitive to mental health.

I disagree about the second part. I think we see several instances where he was offered counseling, one on one tutoring, placed in mental health facilities for outpatient treatment, etc. Ultimately more could have been done. But there were good, earnest efforts made in my opinion.

By the way, you have to give a half-hearted pass to Matthews. Chances are he has no idea what Counterstrike is. He's looking for reasons just like everyone else. Like Dennis Miller (who's very rationale and smart as a whip) said last night on FNC's Bill O'Reilly Factor: Everyone gets 48 hours or so as a reprieve here. Because everyone is scared and everyone needs answers they may not get.

BRATCH said...

No, I don't give Matthews a pass.

If the only thing he knows about Counterstrike is that it's a violent video game, then he shouldn't engage in that line of questioning until he knows what it is he is talking about.

And not only that, he's asking a 20-year old kid for his opinion on it.

Also, O'Reilly saying that everyone gets a 48 hour reprieve is shocking to me.

He's basically saying that they can say what they want and speculate what they want about anything involved in this story no matter how ridiculous and they reserve the right for it to be totally off base and wrong for about 48 hours.

That's journalism at its worst. That's stuff that hasn't been done since the 1930s when people thought that having a smoke after dinner helped your digestion.

It's irresponsible. If Fox wants to call themselves "fair and balanced" they should report the facts and new information that comes in. Get interviews and take things as they come.

It bothers me how these people are nothing more than celebrity talking heads and because big news goes through them, they believe they are experts in everything simply because they are reporting it.

Travis said...

Hold on, you got all riled up and misread what I wrote. It was Dennis Miller that said that. And his point was that he's not willing to judge the talking heads (it was in response to Rosie O'Donnell blaming gun control and ranting about George Bush). Miller isn't an employee of Fox News and his point is valid.

I don't think anyone is condoing or endorsing what Matthews did. What I'm saying is he's going to go on the air. He's going to have to say something. And he's making an effort (albeit a very misguided one) to find some answers.

It's not completely outside the realm of possibility that Counterstike and other segments of our violence accepting society may have contributed to it. Not the sole cause, but maybe a small player.

No one thing made a guy kill 33 people.

BRATCH said...

OK, Miller is the d-bag then and any journalist that agrees that statement needs to have his head checked.

You are right in that one thing didn't make this guy kill 32 people, but the entire situation begins and ends with mental illness.

Travis said...

I guess I'm a d-bag too that needs my head checked (although David Moore would argue that I'm not journalist.)

Tolerance is not carte blanche to say and do as you wish. I understand that somethings do fall into the category of being irresponsible. But judging someone for saying what's on their mind in a situation like that is hardly the right thing to do.

Rosie wants guns banned. Period. Of course there are already over 250,000,000 (that's million with an M) guns in this country.
Is she right? No. Is that a reasonable statement? No. But if you said she's just an idiot for suggesting such a thing then you're taking the human factor out of the equation.

Chris Wallace, while wrong for suggenting what he did, shouldn't be judged as being an idiot for saying it. He was irrational and irresponsible when most people's thoughts are irrational.

Should he have thought better of it? Absolutely. Should he make some sort of effort to clear the air? Probably. He should admit it was foolish. He probalby won't, but he should. All I'm saying is it's a tough thing to really hold that against him considering what his state of mind might have been when he said it.

I'm sure we're going to have to agree to disagree here. You've got a better perspective frankly because you're in the same industry as Chris Wallace. So I guess I'll have grudgingly admit that you're pretty much right, but not completely.