My friend Stephen just sent a powerful letter to NBC and MSNBC.
It's hard to beat, so, with his permission, I'm simply "cut-and-pasting" it, verbatim.
By airing the photos, videotapes and so-called manifesto provided by Monday’s killer at Virginia Tech, NBC has made one of the most grievously irresponsible decisions of a news agency in recent memory.
The question of consideration for the victims and their families, while significant, is faced by every journalist whose job it is to report a tragedy. It is not new, and it will continue to be debated in good faith in newsrooms.
What is unique to this instance is that NBC, while making noises about helping us all see into the mind of a disturbed person, has completely missed the paradigm.
This man was a terrorist. An Al-Qaida of one, determined to use violence to win the attention he believed was his due. The murders he committed were but one part of his plan. The rest was faithfully carried out by NBC.
By airing the materials, NBC has issued a standing invitation to other wannabe mass murderers and notoriety seekers to follow in the footsteps of the immortal Cho. Kill a lot of people, mail your press kit to the media, and the media will give you exactly what you were looking for.
Terrorists will always win attention: notoriety is built into the act itself. It is one thing to report a story. It is quite another to be a terrorist tool.
Materials such as these should be inspected by mental health professionals and other specialists, not by the designated audience of terrorists.
NBC should have been aware that a useful public discussion – in particular, of the importance of attention and intervention when disturbed people show signs of trouble – was already under way, with a focus on events preceding Monday’s atrocities. On Monday, the terrorist took over.
I see no reason to continue giving my attention to NBC News.