Networks find Rice video too hard to resist
Sep. 12, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — Television executives say they want minimize replays of video showing Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee with one punch. In practice, it has proved hard to resist.
Hours after CNN's programming chief publicly worried about gratuitous repeats of the disturbing images that first came to light Monday, the network showed Janay Palmer falling to an elevator floor after Rice's blow some 13 times on two programs Thursday evening, according to a count by Media Matters for America. Seven times it was played in slow motion.
Similarly, Fox News Channel twice aired the video initially obtained by TMZ after its executive vice president for news, Michael Clemente, said that continuing to show it is "simply overdoing it for shock value."
The sickening footage has had a major impact, leading to Rice being suspended by the NFL and cut by the Baltimore Ravens, and raising questions about the actions of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. But after being on the air for a day, the images themselves began to lose news value.
Janelle Rodriguez, vice president of programming at CNN, did not ban its continued use. But she said Thursday that producers have been asked to exercise judgment about using it.
Several hours later, it ran seven times during Erin Burnett's hour-long show, including at the beginning of an interview segment where New York radio personality Craig Carton urged CNN to stop showing it.
"What's the point of showing it?" he said. "We've all seen it. You guys have shown it 50 times in the last five minutes. ESPN does play by play of it. So if people really do care about (Palmer) and I hope they do, because she's a victim of domestic violence, stop showing the video."
At first, Burnett didn't answer. But when Carton returned to the topic, she replied.
"If no one had shown the video, no one would be talking about this," Burnett said. "No one would be aware of it. Nobody would know. Ray Rice would be playing. Whatever is happening with them would still be happening. It has gotten a national conversation going."
Said Carton: "Three days later it doesn't need to be shown anymore."
During a 10 a.m. EDT news report on the story Friday, CNN aired two still pictures but not the video. During its 10 a.m. "SportsCenter" on Friday, ESPN reported the story without using the video. The network did not show it on Thursday despite several developments in the story, spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.
During a long discussion about Rice and other domestic violence episodes on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday, the video was not played. MSNBC said it wouldn't discuss its editorial decisions.