The Ohio State Fair Accident: Thanks, TV News, But I’LL Decide What I Should See

From ABC News:

Eighteen-year-old Tyler Jarrell, of Columbus, Ohio, was killed Wednesday evening when the Fire Ball ride he was on at the Ohio State Fair broke apart in mid-air, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. Seven people were also injured in the incident…The victims were transported to local hospitals and at least three are in critical condition.

On all the news channels I saw, including CNN, HLN, ABC, Fox and CBS, video taken by an onlooker was frozen at the moment the ride broke apart. As HLN’s  cheery Robin Meade put it, “We’re not going to show the rest of the video, because it’s graphic and disturbing.”

Wait, Robin: YOU saw it. The producers saw it. Why don’t I get to see it?

I posted the unedited video above. It’s not any more graphic than this…


…and people paid to see that scene. But never mind, the silly hyper-protectiveness isn’t the ethics issue.

The ethics issue is that this is how journalists convince themselves  that they can withhold information, or distort it, change it or spin it for our own good. No, I don’t grant them that privilege, or the role. The job of the news media is to let us know what happened, as thoroughly as they know it. Today it’s some people flying off of a malfunctioning fair ride, yesterday it’s that a President of the U.S. might have raped someone. Tomorrow it might be, oh, I don’t know, this story, which had barely nicked the news networks as of yesterday.

I don’t trust these people to decide what it’s healthy for me to watch. If they want to give warnings, fine. I want the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news.

This episode reminded me of the recent article  in which Andy Robinson interviewed the six former Public Editors of the New York Times for the Columbia Journalism Review. Among the questions about anonymous sourcing and testy newsroom relations, Robinson asked, “Is the Times a liberal newspaper?”

He also asked, “Is the Pope Catholic?”

Kidding! But I digress.

The most revealing response, for me, was from Arthur Brisbane, who explained,

“It’s a staff of New Yorkers. These are people who mostly live in the New York metropolitan area. They are highly educated, and most of them are eastern seaboard products from a kind of worldview and life experience point-of-view and come from the world Donald Trump just kicked in the butt. And they were not conscious themselves of this fact because people like you don’t get it  – how the world sees you. You get what you see and it looks correct to you.”

Translation: The Times isn’t liberal, it’s just put out by people who are smarter and better educated than you peasants, so it sees things as they really are.

This is how journalists really think. To be fair, it’s how most professions think: lawyers think they are the smartest people around, so do doctors, professors, scholars and, sadly and absurdly, artists and entertainers. It’s all arrogance and hubris,  and an attitude that is a catalyst for unethical conduct. In my experience—it would be nice to have better data on this–while all the professions have inflated opinions of their own wisdom and intellectual prowess, the gap between what journalists believe is their intellectual superiority and their actual abilities is unusually and dangerously large. No studies seem to support the argument that journalists should be able to tell the rest of us what we can know about, or justify their self-anointment as public censors. On this graph, showing the range of IQ’s for various occupations, journalists don’t even appear, in part because many of them are wash-outs from other fields:

I’m not even sure where they fit in on the graph: “Creative occupations”? Speaking from personal observation,  none of the sharpest tacks in the various academic boxes I occupied became journalists. Few of the journalists and future journalists I have known are brilliant or even close to it, and when I have dealt directly with reporters and journalists in interviews or coverage of projects I was involved in, I have usually been stunned at their carelessness and inaccuracy. I have often written that the more you know about a subject, the more horrified you will be at any article you read about it in a newspaper. It is as true as ever.

Since there is scant evidence that journalists are better qualified to decide what the public can and should know than the public itself, and considerable evidence that they are substantially biased, arrogant, unethical, soaked with hubris and no brighter than a convention of realtors, they should confine themselves to providing facts, and letting us do the filtering.

42 thoughts on “The Ohio State Fair Accident: Thanks, TV News, But I’LL Decide What I Should See

  1. There is yet another deeply unethical story around Debbie Wasserman Schulz, Imran Awan, and the sewer of the DNC – the US attorney prosecuting Awan is her brother Steven Wasserman. How unethical would you rate this absurd nepotism and conflict of interest?

  2. As someone who was involved in the standardization of adult and child intelligence tests your conclusion doesn’t surprise me much. A journalist has to have basic writing and reading skills along with learning how to verify information but that’s about it. I doubt that many of them know much about how statistics are used to mislead and support fake news and if they do, that just makes them more dangerous. Arrogance is a hallmark of the so called profession unfortunately.

  3. From being around journalists on local levels (strikes, fires, burglaries, business news, school incidents, even obits) I can confirm that no story I was ever a part of has been 100% correctly, factually written. Scale this up to national politics add bias and arrogance and it’sstaggering in its implications. I never believe any news reporting to be the whole story.

  4. “I want the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news.” Me too, but…

    Really, hasn’t the power to decide which facts to communicate or expose to the larger public always been used by those we might call journalists?

    So, isn’t it more the widespread lack of trust in the media and their out-in-front staff (caused by unethical behavior by journalists and their employers) that causes so many of us to feel so frustrated nowadays – instead of the myth that more power than ever before exists with the media and their mouthpieces, to deceive, mislead, and groom audiences?

  5. Brisbane’s answer is just a rehash of Ted Rall’s “Confessions of a Cultural Elitist,” written in the wake of John Kerry being sent packing by those “spectacularly stupid” (his words, not mine) voters who decided to back GWB for a second term.

    The essay talks at some length about how the smartest people in the United States live in the big blue coastal cities, but can be boiled down to this ending quote, with the author’s eyes looking waaaay down his nose at half the country:

    “Why shouldn’t those of us on the coasts feel superior? We eat better, travel more, dress better, watch cooler movies, earn better salaries, meet more interesting people, listen to better music and know more about what’s going on in the world.”

    This attitude, which is typical of coastal elites, though not usually so frankly stated (which led shrill conservative Michelle Malkin to pronounce Ted an “ideological streaker,” guilty of “buck-naked bigotry”), was a big factor, though not the only one, in putting Donald Trump in the White House. I live in both red and blue zones, dividing my life between urban and suburban NJ and rural PA. Increasingly it is becoming like living in two worlds that are not just different, but that hate and loathe each other, and the hatred of the blue for the red is much more pronounced.

    I’m not going to see I haven’t known more than a few rural folks who took a jaunt into New York or Philadelphia and later said they were glad to get back to where it was quiet, where you could see the stars at night, and where a wrong turn wouldn’t land you in a dirty, poorly maintained street among the crowd John Rocker described. However, I have heard many more supposedly educated people from the cities talk about how they took the train to look at the leaves and pick apples in the fall or visited some winery in the spring for a wedding, but made a point of being back among the brownstones by nightfall or never leaving the manicured winery grounds, lest they experience a bumpkin sighting, or have to hear some fat guy with bad teeth and a Duck Dynasty beard in a camo jacket, ragged cargo pants, and boots with no laces in them drawl about how Trump was going to drain the swamp and 2nd Amendment remedies.

    • That about lines up with my experience with blue coast liberals, Steve. And they have no idea (nor care) how their high handed policies impact our lives, because they are the elite, and born to rule.

      Come a minor breakdown in society, were will the food be? With those who are producing it. Where will the guns be? Guarding the food.

  6. I want the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news.

    But…they gave you the news. The news was that the ride broke apart, killing one and injuring seven others. What value does showing the clip of this happening actually have?

    The Final Destination comparison doesn’t work; that’s fiction. Seeing real deaths is worse, to most people, than seeing fake ones. Everyone watches violent movies; only sickos watch snuff films.

    I also think your analogies are weak. A president raping someone is news, and was covered. But let’s say a tape emerged of the rape itself taking place. Would the news be obligated to show that tape? Of course not; in fact, showing the tape would be in horrendously poor taste, and a further violation to the victim. There is a difference between reporting news about a horrific incident, and showing graphic video of that incident.

      • “A president allegedly raping someone is news, and was covered.”

        Do tell!

        Hillarity 11/09/2015: “Every survivor** of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.”

        **Unless it was my serial sexual predator Hubbie, shoot, we jus’ can’t keep him on the porch!

        To wit:
        *Gennifer Flowers-extramarital affair
        *Monica Lewinsky-Blue Dress laundry problem
        *Eileen Wellstone- Sexual Assault
        *Sandra Allen James- Sexual Assault
        *Christy Zercher- Sexual Assault
        *22 Year-Old Yale Student – Sexual Assault
        *Paula Jones – Sexual Harrassment,. Character Assassination
        *Connie Hamzy – Sexual Harassment.
        *Juanita Broaddrick- Rape
        *Elizabeth (Ward) Gracen – Extramarital One night stand
        *Dolly Kyle Browning – Extramarital Affair in 1992
        *Sally Perdue – Extramarital Affair
        *Lencola Sullivan – Extramarital Affair
        *Susie Whitacre – Extramarital Office Affair
        *Bobbie Ann William – Extramarital Affair

        The burning question? How many names are missing because they didn’t come forward or were bought/scared off?

        • That list is fake news, and you are a gullible partisan hack. Bad combination.

          Only four women have publicly accused Clinton of sexual misconduct: Juanita Broaddrick accused him of rape, Kathleen Willey and Cristy Zercher accused him of sexual assault, and Paula Jones accused him of sexual harassment. All of these allegations were given extensive coverage at the time.

          Cristy Zercher failed a polygraph administered by the show “Inside Edition,” so we can discount her claim; the other three allegations have varying degrees of credibility, but cannot be immediately discounted.

          None of the other women you have listed as accusing Clinton of sexual assault ever did so publicly. Eileen Wellstone’s assault allegations were not covered because no one can prove that Eileen Wellstone ever existed. I’ve done the research; there’s no trace of her. The rumors about her seem to be entirely fabricated.

          Similarly, I can’t find anything on Google about a 22-year-old Yale student making any such allegation against Clinton, not even from a right-wing source.

          Hamzy says she was propositioned–not harassed–by Clinton, but she also seems to have made a career out of claiming to have slept with famous people. Witnesses say that she propositioned Clinton, not vice versa. Either way, she did not claim harassment.

          The Sandra Allen James story originated in the fake news website Capitol Hill Blue, which has a long record of publishing false stories about both conservatives and liberals. While other more respected news sources have repeated the claims about James, every one of them used Capitol Hill Blue as their source; no other primary sources have claimed to have interviewed James herself. This seems just as fabricated as the Wellstone story.

          The rest of your list is about consensual affairs. Why you would include that on a list of alleged sexual assaults and rapes is beyond me.

          • “That list is fake news, and you are a gullible partisan hack.”

            Shoot Chris, I try to be pleasant and what do you do? You counter with the nukes: hurtfully hurled references not intended to make me feel special, validated, wanted, or included.

            Fine, but tell me, will the charge of “fake news” be applied to anything that attempts to marginalize/disenfranchise (READ: accurately depict) your heroes?

            And you verily LEAP to the defense of a serial sexual predator who is a self-confessed Christian and champion of Women’s Rights.

            Except the right to be protected from harassment/intimidation/assault/abuse/rape, am I right?

            That goes for his craven Faux Feminista wife, who did everything she could to enable his criminal behavior.

            “But privately, she embraced the Clinton campaign’s aggressive strategy of counterattack: Women who claimed to have had sexual encounters with Mr. Clinton would become targets of digging and discrediting — tactics that women’s rights advocates frequently denounce.” (bolds mine)

            That’s from your Bible, the NYT, from whom one would expect obsequiously furious sugarcoating; still.

            Hillarity’s hit man/pit bull Jack Palladino? Nice fella just trying to do his job, right? What exactly was his job?

            EVERYONE else is lying, the Clintonistas are as pure as the driven snow, and I’m the “gullible partisan hack.”

            Got it.

            • Paul, you posted a chain e-mail like fake list, I debunked it, and then you go on to post more partisan talking points? Thank you for proving my point.

              • You gotta be effin’ kidding me, reread your comment; you yourself conceded most of the accuser’s accusations were credible, you feebly attempt to pooh-pooh the rest, then POOF, it’s all fake news??

                That positively SCREAMS ”gullible partisan hack,” and a phony, intellectually dishonest one to boot!

                The Donald talks about grabbing pussy, and you want him hung by the plums with his own entrails. The former Serial-Predator-In-Chief has a CLEARLY identifiable PATTERN of deviance and you can’t slobber enough in his defense by blaming the victims; oy, such a mensch.

                Sheesh, I didn’t even bring up numerous ”Lolita Express” forays to his convicted scum-bag pal Jeffy Epstein’s Pervert Island.


                Might the flight logs, ditching his SS detail, and the underage sex slaves, I mean the “nieces,” are “fake news” too? I imagine he and Jeffy were developing a program to expand employment opportunities for young females?

                Were Bill Cosby a career Lefty, you’d be regaling us with how a bunch of gold-diggers were trying to drag a brother down, am I right?

                Still, your spittle-flecked explaining away/victim shaming of WJC positively pales in comparison to your glassy eyin’ lock-steppin’ unquestionin’ water conveyance for his serial, congenital, reflex, inveterate lying wife.

                C’mon, someone that claims to be a feminist Women’s Rights Superstar on the one hand and allows herself to be publicly humiliated on a galactic scale while condoning the serial criminal sexual deviance of her husband on the other doesn’t have a seriously misfiring brainpan?

                Pray tell, if a X-Chromosomal Unit in your wheelhouse was getting treated like a doormat, the way Hillarity has been for decades, what would you tell them?

                Mercy me, the earlobe deep, viscid irony through which you must slog.

                • You gotta be effin’ kidding me, reread your comment; you yourself conceded most of the accuser’s accusations were credible,

                  Not so. You reread it; three out of seven is not “most.” Two of the women you listed cannot be proven to exist, and the claims about them originate entirely from a non-credible source; it is not “victim-shaming” to question non-existent testimony of non-existent women. I only questioned the testimony of two actual women, and I gave good reasons why.

                  I did not question the credibility of Broaddrick, Willey, or Jones, and they may be entirely truthful. But this is not like the Cosby situation. Those three women’s accounts all differ in severity; Cosby had dozens of accusers who all said basically the same thing. The only way you get even close to the number of Cosby accusers with Clinton is by padding the list with consensual affairs and totally baseless accusations from fake news sources.

                  Care to try again?

                  • “Care to try again?”

                    Right neighborly of you to ask; you’re right about Bill Cosby’s accusers being found in higher numbers.

                    Not outside the realm of possibility that’s because they don’t lift weights, fly in small aircraft, step in front of speeding bullets, or commit suicide by shooting themselves in the back of the head.

                    Anywho, what time will you be heading off to see “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” which opens in select theaters today?

                    Some good news, seems you won’t have to wait too long in line, even virulent Wamalista Alarmacyst Lefties are flipping it off.

                    “The Troubling Return of Al Gore”


                    Et tu New Republic?

                    • Vince Foster conspiracy theorism. Nice. Thanks for ruining your own credibility. I’m done with you.

          • So many things you know, Chris, that ain’t so…

            Cristy Zercher failed a polygraph administered by the show “Inside Edition,” so we can discount her claim

            Having attended a Citizens Law Enforcement Academy session with the world renowned trainer for the top world wide law enforcement polygraph organization (Texas DPS) which trains LOEs from around the world, let me tell you what was said: polygraphs are very subjective to the tester. Hollywood aside, no law enforcement will arrest a suspect based solely on a polygraph. It is a tool to point in a direction, and that is all. The tester has to interpret the data, and bias rules in subjective judgement. This is why no court in the USA will admit polygraph results into evidence.

            Translation: Inside Edition is a progressive media propaganda tool with an agenda, and got a biased tester. How do I know? This is how progressives work, going by their Alinsky rule book.

            no one can prove that Eileen Wellstone ever existed…

            Nice fallacy, Chris. I cannot prove that your name is Chris. Does that mean you don’t exist? Same logic. Just because someone existed before the Internet, or has no presence there does not mean they do not exist. Records of such events are hard to come by, especially as the ‘boy club’ that ivy league schools suppress such things even today.

            So now I put this back on you: why WAS Clinton expelled from Oxford? If there was a valid excuse, don’t you think it would have been used by now? Occam’s Razor applies.

            Similarly, I can’t find anything on Google about a 22-year-old Yale student making any such allegation against Clinton, not even from a right-wing source.

            Wow, are you easy to manipulate, Chris. If it is not on the Internet, it does not exist. Can you find pictures or anything but third party references to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? By your standard, they never existed either. How about the city of Troy? Most scholars believed the war in The Odyssey was made up with fictional places… until the city was found.

            The rest of your list is about consensual affairs.

            Well, that makes it all okay, then. Bill sleeps around on Hillary, and that is perfectly okay with you. Don’t look too closely at the Lolita thing either, Chris. Ignorance is bliss.

            The depths you will go to cover for old Slick Willy (my namesake, not me) are not rational.

        • How many names are missing because they didn’t come forward or were bought/scared off?

          …or are dead. Just sayin’ that the Clintons have a very large number of dead bodies associated with them, many of them ‘inconvenient’ witnesses.

      • No, Chris, you should have admitted that this was a perfect example of the news media sitting on news and not releasing it to influence events and public opinion. I’ll give you a second chance:

        See the Wikipedia entry, which is accurate, especially the bolded part:

        Though Broaddrick was resistant to talking to the media, rumors about her story began circulating no later than Clinton’s presidential bid in 1992.[7] Broaddrick had confided in Phillip Yoakum, whom she knew from business circles and at the time considered a friend. When Clinton won the Democratic nomination, Yoakum, widely considered to have a Republican agenda,[7] contacted Sheffield Nelson, Clinton’s opponent in the 1990 gubernatorial race. Yoakum arranged a meeting between Nelson and Broaddrick, who resisted Yoakum’s and Nelson’s push that she go public.[1] Yoakum secretly taped the conversation and wrote a letter summarizing the allegations, which began to circulate within Republican circles. The story reached the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times in October 1992, but the papers dropped the story after Broaddrick refused to talk to reporters and Yoakum refused to release the recording.[7]

        In the fall of 1997, Paula Jones’s private investigators tried to talk to Broaddrick at her home, also secretly taping the conversation.[13] Broaddrick refused to discuss the incident, saying “it was just a horrible horrible thing,” and that she “wouldn’t relive it for anything.”[14] The investigators told her she would likely be subpoenaed if she would not talk to them. Broaddrick said she would deny everything, saying “you can’t get to him, and I’m not going to ruin my good name to do it… there’s just absolutely no way anyone can get to him, he’s just too vicious.”[14] Broaddrick was subpoenaed in the Jones suit soon after and submitted an affidavit denying that Clinton had made “any sexual advances”.[1][2] The recording of Broaddrick’s conversation with the investigators was leaked to the press, but Broaddrick continued to refuse to speak to reporters.[13]

        Despite Broaddrick’s denial in her affidavit, Jones’ lawyers included Yoakum’s letter and Broaddrick’s name in a 1998 filing.[13] The letter suggested that the Clintons had bought Broaddrick’s silence, describing a phone call where Broaddrick’s husband asked Yoakum to say the incident never happened and said that he intended to ask Clinton “for a couple of big favors.”[15] This, along with the discrepancy between the letter and Broaddrick’s affidavit, attracted the attention of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who was investigating Clinton for obstruction of justice. After being approached by the FBI, Broaddrick consulted her son, a lawyer, who told her she could not lie to federal investigators.[7] After Starr granted her immunity,[16] thus assuring that she would not be prosecuted for perjury regarding her affidavit in the Jones case, Broaddrick recanted the affidavit. However, she insisted that Clinton had not pressured or bribed her in any way, and so Starr concluded that the story was not relevant to his investigation and his report only mentioned the recanting in a footnote.[1]

        Rumors continued to circulate in tabloids and on talk radio, now with Broaddrick’s name attached.[13] Broaddrick was upset by a tabloid report that she had been paid to keep quiet, and decided to agree to an interview with NBC’s Lisa Myers. Myers interviewed her on January 20, 1999, the day after Clinton was impeached. The interview only aired on February 24, 1999, 35 days later and after Clinton had been acquitted on February 12. NBC was accused of intentionally sitting on the story and invoking unusually demanding standards of corroboration until the impeachment process ended.[13]

        ACCUSED of sitting on the story?? Of course it sat on the story, just as Matt Drudge had to break the Monica Lewinsky story after it had been buried. Just as the news media sat on the John Edwards scandal, refusing to investigate despite the National Enquirer doing all the legwork for them.

        I guess I should have been more specific. I was not saying the story was NEVER covered. If it was NEVER covered, you and I would know not about it. The post is about the news media withholding information.

    • To take another example that just popped into my noggs:

      If the pee tape turns out to be real (I doubt it, but let’s swing for the fences here), should the main news networks show it in its entirety?

      I’d say no, and I’d bet they wouldn’t show it.

    • The real thing is this:

      Does showing the clip ADD *useful* information or not? If not, don’t even show a single millisecond of the clip. They’ve got other news to get too.

      The question of what information ought and ought not be shared should have less to do with whether or not it is graphic, and more to do with whether or not it adds more information than a simple verbal report can handle.

      If enough controversy arises that someone thinks a particular report is fake, then by all means, show the clip.

  7. I love the youtube clip caption:

    Ride “malfunctions”. Yeah, technically.

    But breaking apart mid operation and slinging a component full of riders to their doom is somewhat lost in the connotation of “malfunction”.

    It’s like when a doctor uses the term “pressure” when he’s about to hurt you like crazy.

    “In a moment, you’re going to feel a little ‘pressure'”.

    Yeah, thanks doc…it’s like when someone throws a brick at my face, I’m going to feel a ‘little pressure’ also.

    • Like the Challenger “malfunctioned”. No you morons. The Challenger blew the hell up. The O-ring on a booster rocket “malfunctioned”. The Challenger, was blown to smithereens.

      It’s like unnecessarily hedging:

      • One of my pet peeves in sports journalism — the pluralizing of singular institutions or persons.

        “The Nebraskas or Alabamas” or “The Bradys and Lucks of the league.”

        I always hear that and think, gee I never knew there was more than one University of Nebraska. Where is the other one?

        Lazy reporting, in my opinion.

    • I hate fair rides to death. Why do people trust anything bolted together earlier in the day by fair workers? My wife says I’m a chicken, and she’s right. But I’m fine with it.

        • Have you ever HAD what passes for Italian sausage in Ohio? Not even close. Come up here and I’ll take you on a pizza tour of Hoboken, just as good and a lot cheaper than Brooklyn, and you’ll taste the real stuff.

        • My daughter rode a fireball (that fireball? I’m not that far away) two weeks ago about six or seven times. I hope she enjoyed it – it probably won’t happen again.

    • Blue state elites have gotten remarkably frank. Why not? They know there will be few repercussions and they’ll get a lot of approval from the people they care about. What they don’t consider is how they are received by red state deplorables. Red state deplorable are not quite as dumb as liberals think they are. Although, considering who red state conservatives elected we’re not 100% smart either.

      • That’s a very interesting observation, wg. I think you’re right. There are no adverse consequences any more. Everybody’s on the same team. I guess I’d never looked at it that way.

  8. I seem to remember graphic war time footage being aired on the Boston 10 O’Clock News. Maybe it’s a time slot thing, and as a youth sensitive to violence, I never wanted to see it.

    We’ve got smart TVs now. It’d be cool if they were smart enough to have settings in them to remove or obscure graphic violence or whatever else you might not want to see. Think of a TV that automatically bleeps swears.

    There are some things to say about that as far as limiting what you hear is the first step towards handing in your ability to make informed decisions. And such tools could be used improperly to invoke statewide censorship.

    Nevertheless, for me, I never want to see footage of someone dying. If my TV could block that, I would be happy. As it is, I would never say that my delicate constitution means that nobody gets to see it.

    One more way in which television falls behind the internet.

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