During the day, Fox News has been known to show live car chases for as long as an hour at a time. The coverage typically is fed to the cable news giant by an affiliate’s news or traffic helecopter.
Today, that strategy went badly wrong. Fox was airing a car jacking in Phoenix, Ariz., that had lasted at least an hour. It ended when the car jacker pulled over by the side of the road and committed suicide.
As the story was airing, Fox news anchor Shep Smith was commenting on the events as they occurred, and once the man left the car Fox went to a 5-second delay on their broadcast. But somehow, the editors missed cutting away before airing the shooting on live TV. And as it happened, Shep Smith (in my opinion, one of the classier hosts/anchors on cable news), screamed “Get off it! Get off it!”
Fox Car Jacking Video With Apology
(Does not show suicide)
After inadvertently sharing the shooting, Fox went to a commercial. Upon returning, Smith apologized to viewers in no uncertain terms for airing the shooting.
But here’s the problem: Why was the network showing the car chase in the first place? It wasn’t as though the car chase had any news value outside of the Phoenix, Ariz. area. But they do have viewer appeal, and Smith has admitted that he likes showing and viewing car chases for many years.
The Poynter Institute has had multiple stories up on their site about the shooting, including this one that looks at how social media covered Fox’s coverage of the chase.
The Web site BuzzFeed has taken heat for posting both an edited and unedited version of the chase. The argument is that the suicide should not be shown. It should be noted, however, the BuzzFeed does warn you that they are showing the shooting, a warning you didn’t get when this aired live on Fox. Gawker also posted video of the shooting along with a discussion of why they did so.