Fox News broadcasts man committing suicide

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, September 28, 2012 16:30 EDT
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Fox News host Shepard Smith apologizes for broadcasting video of a man committing suicide. Photo: Screenshot via YouTube.
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Fox News host Shepard Smith said Friday that he was deeply sorry that his show, “Studio B with Shepard Smith,” accidentally broadcast a live suicide at the end of a high speed car chase in Arizona.

The chase, which came to a grisly end outside of Phoenix, went on for about an hour and the suspect eclipsed speeds of 110 mph. Police said he fired shots at them from the driver’s seat of a stolen Dodge Caliber before ultimately shooting himself.

Fox News was following the chase since it began, which Smith is known for doing — he once even wished for a car chase to keep viewers interested in the network’s analysis of the Supreme Court’s health care decision. But on Friday, Smith found himself apologizing.

“We really messed up and we’re all very sorry,” he said after returning from an impromptu commercial break and explaining that the network’s screw-up happened even despite a tape delay. “That didn’t belong on TV. We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV, and I personally apologize to you that that happened.”

Footage of the man’s suicide was almost immediately republished by BuzzFeed and Mediaite. [Ed. note: Both videos are extremely graphic and readers are asked to take that into consideration before clicking.] BuzzFeed later issued an amended video that did not show the suicide.

Numerous media studies show that reporting on suicide and showing the uncensored act can increase suicidal tendencies in vulnerable individuals, and most professional news organizations have policies that prohibit use of overly graphic or gory images or video. Individuals who are contemplating suicide are urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

The suicidal man had not been named at time of this story’s publication.

This video is from Fox News, broadcast Friday, Sept. 28, 2012.


[Ed. note: It was with a great deal of internal debate that Raw Story linked to the video in question. We don't encourage readers to click it. But we felt that to report on the story without linking to the video of the incident would be failing to give our readers a full and widely available context.]

UPDATE: Fox released the following statement to TV Newser by Michael Clemente, executive VP, news editorial.

We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five second delay. Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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