Two media pros deserve kudos this week.
One is Jack Cafferty, a CNN anchor who, on the air, decried his own network’s coverage of the BTK murder trial sentencing. Cafferty said that by showing Dennis Rader’s long statement to the court, in its entirety, the news media played right into his hands:
“We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. Publicity is this monster’s gasoline. It’s what kept him going during the years he was playing cat and mouse with the cops and murdering innocent people. He loved being the BTK killer. He loved reading about himself in the newspapers, watching the television stories on the local news in Kansas, on the nights before he got caught.
Doesn’t anybody get this? This thing should have been sentenced in a closed courtroom in 30 seconds and thrown into a hole to rot. I’m a little embarrassed to be a part of the media on a day like this.
This is a ghoulish exercise on the part of the news media and if ratings are the reason, then I’ll say it again, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. There was no reason to give this guy a platform to talk to everybody in the country about thanking the cops and all this garbage that he spewed.
I watched it for two hours. It’s nonsense. It doesn’t belong on television. Nobody needs to watch this stuff. All it does is inspire other nut cases out there that may be they can get themselves famous by doing this kind of — it’s terrible and I don’t care how many people were watching.”
Way to go, Jack! I hope the corner office at CNN and the other news networks which allowed Dennis Rader all of that free airtime will consider your words next time around. In case they missed them, here’s a transcript.
The other is Bob Costas, who refused to anchor CNN’s “Larry King Live” on Thursday night because the hour was dedicated to the Natalee Holloway case. The network found another substitute host for that night, and the next day, Costas released a statement explaining his position:
“I didn’t think the subject matter of Thursday’s show was the kind of broadcast that I should be doing. I suggested some alternatives but the producers preferred the topics they had chosen. I was fine with that, and respectfully declined to participate. There were no hard feelings at all. It’s not a big deal. I’m sure there are countless topics that will be mutually acceptable in the future.”
This is why Bob should go back to doing his HBO “On The Record” show weekly (rather than his current monthly show, “Costas Now”). “OTR” allowed him to do what he liked, not the sort of junk news coverage he’ll be forced into whenever he subs for King. Costas is a brilliant interviewer and broadcaster, but he’ll be sucked down by the quicksand that is “Larry King Live” if he stays there.
Speaking of Costas, now that there are DVDs of classic Dick Cavett shows, isn’t it about time NBC boxed up those classic “Later” shows and released them on DVD?