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Steve Capus On “The Lowest Form Of Political Rhetoric”

Monday, April 30, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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From Howard Kurtz’s column today on NBC News Division President Steve Capus’ response to the obvious:

Capus bristled when conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt said on CNN that “NBC will have blood on its hands the next time someone sends a video to their network of their mayhem.”

“We’re not above criticism,” Capus says, “but let’s not take the easy way out and turn to the lowest form of political rhetoric.” Still, he understands the public anger, saying: “Sometimes good journalism is bad public relations.”

What a candy response from the head of a major news organization to the many and consistent criticisms of their terrible news decision.  The “easy way out?” That’s what Capus is doing and has been doing since the day of his and NBC’s fateful decision.  I have invited Capus on the program and got no response.  He’s no doubt got a stack of interview requests from hundreds of reporters and analysts.  What’s he done?  He’s gone to Oprah and Howard and has refused to respond to critics of his decision, including families of the victims.  Capus is hiding in the office, giving pathetically self-serving answers to friendly fellow MSMers, and refusing to answer the obvious tough questions  –“Did you consult with one psychiatrist about the effects on other potential rampage killers?”–because they are unanswerable.

So let’s be blunt: Steve Capus is no more qualified to have made the decision about the impact of that video on marginally balanced or already unbalanced psychotics than he is to render judgments on how best to treat cancer.  Read Howard’s bio of Capus and you’ll be shocked that the MSM equivalent of a senior time-serving East bloc apparatchik is making these calls.  With his background fully fleshed out it isn’t surprising that Capus went to the default mode when a hard decision was put before him, and lacked the basic creativity or curiosity to seek informed opinion outside the closed world of the teleprompter readers and ratings jockeys.  It is not the “lowest form of political rhetoric” to make the obvious and indeed irrefutable point that the next time a video from a rampage killer arrives at an MSM office it will have NBC’s fingerprints on it.  That’s the uncomfortable truth, which hopefully troubles Capus at least as much as the images of the killer troubles the families and friends of the victims.  Capus has little if any conscience, and his “decision-making” indefensible.  All of his friends in the business can take him aside and tell him he did great, “we’re reporters after all,” but it is a shameful thing he did and will remain so for as long as news is other than a live feed from everywhere of everything.

The lowest form of political rhetoric, btw, would be the appeal to base instinct that results in the imprisonment of, harm to, or even death of others.  But I don’t expect Capus to know that he is accusing me of the very thing he and his network did.  That would require learning and judgment, not reflex and bile, and he hasn’t got it in him, no matter what the title on his door says.  NBC must be bleeding in its ratings.  Good.  The viewers should also know that Capus has contempt for their reaction to his “news judgment.”

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