Already this morning I have been repeatedly exposed (and, admittedly, each time turned to be exposed) to the following “disturbing video” on MSNBC:
“BABY LAUNCHED INTO AIR” An infant, seen lying on a large inflated pillow, is then launched into the air as a teenager jumps on the pillow, and finally lands with a thud face-first on the floor several feet away “And now this video, really disturbing video,” the anchor promises by way of introduction.
“TORTURE ON TAPE?” Mexican police officers torture one another (“an officer is seen having water poured up his nose,” another officer is seen rolling, on order, “through a pile of vomit”) which the police chief says is “training for an elite unit that may face such torture techniques if kidnapped by organized crime groups,” training that a “private U.S. security company” —natch! — is “heading up.” A video which is, warns (invites?) the anchor, “disturbing at times.”
Followed directly, just after 10 this morning — and then again in sequence, just after 11 — by this one:
“LEFT TO DIE:” A dying woman dressed in red and seated in a hospital waiting room is seen dropping off her chair — “she died right there on the floor” —as hospital employees go about their business, one even mopping around her. This, said the MSNBC anchor, is the “second time in a week we’re seeing disturbing video of a patient left to die in a hospital waiting room” and, depending on what time you turned on MSNBC, likely at least the third time today you’ve been disturbed by this one.
Nothing halts an itchy remote-finger like the promise of “disturbing video” — a double threat, from cable news’s standpoint, in that this sort of grab-it-from-You-Tube-or-some-surveillance-video “reporting,” disturbing as it may be, does little to disturb the budget.
UPDATE (11:20 AM): And no, I won’t update this all day (though I could). Let’s add this to the list, even if MSNBC only implied that it should be considered “disturbing video:”
“MEAN BUS DRIVER” Surveillance video shows a bus driver “slamming on the brakes” to get rowdy kids to sit down. “That’s reportedly not all,” the anchor adds, for viewers not yet sufficiently disturbed. “Parents have complained to the school about the driver’s foul language toward the students.”
“Mean bus driver” is not %!#*ing news! Even with the video!
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.