Almost Hypocrite

by Amy Zidell

A question popped in my head about the broadcasting, online publishing, and I'm sure newspaper and magazine publishing of what's been dubbed the Multi Media Manifesto of the Virginia Tech murderer. I make a presumption about printed media as I don't generally get printed magazines or newspapers. Here's the question: Why was there a seeming rush to read and disseminate the narrative of this killer while only months earlier the prospect of O.J. Simpson's book "If I Did It" being published and accompanied by an on air interview to be broadcast on Fox News not only caused tremendous controversy but resulted in the televised interview broadcast being cancelled and the book project shelved?

Is a comparison even valid? On one side you have an admitted killer who killed himself. On the other side you have someone who was found not guilty of the criminal act and denies the restitution due to culpability determined by a civil court.

I think it's fair to say it's almost hypocritical to stifle the ramblings of someone found guilty of wrongful death but to widely and wildly broadcast and rebroadcast the ramblings of someone who killed over thirty people.

Now NBC is the subject of criticism for airing the material from the Virginia Tech killer. I am puzzled by another issue. Am I the only one concerned that the package wasn't immediately handed over to law enforcement? I heard a report that a postal worker noticed the return address and connected it with the shooting. They also noticed the zip code was wrong. This prompted the worker to directly deliver the package straight to NBC.* A detailed play by play of how NBC handled the package mentions every step, from the security guy that must have drawn the short straw and was tasked with opening the package to staff copying everything inside.* After that, the material was handed over to authorities. Aside from the important investigative value of the unopened and minimally handled package, wasn't anyone concerned the contents of the package or the package itself could be dangerous? Weren't concerns this killer had been responsible for bomb threats at the campus? If they had the presence of mind to be careful to wear gloves when handling the package one would hope the thought would go further like, "Golly, if we're taking these precautions maybe it's best the authorities deal with this first?"

In this case, I don't know that wearing rubber gloves is going to keep anyone's hands from getting dirty.

[*Links to referenced articles, will open in new windows.]
Herald-Tribune - Ticket on how package was handled
New York Times on Tough Decisions at NBC regarding package

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