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Airing of shooting on live tv stirs controversy

After a video of a man shooting himself in the head was posted on YouTube Friday afternoon, Sept. 28, 2012, the site put the above message in its place.
YouTube
(CBS/AP) The live television airing of an Arizona carjacking suspect shooting himself in the head Friday afternoon has spun into an online controversy.

While Fox News Channel was apologizing after showing the shooting live, the website BuzzFeed posted the incident, including the shooting, making no apologies. They also got YouTube in the picture.

In addition to posting the shooting video on its own site, BuzzFeed posted it on YouTube.

YouTube, in turn, took it down, putting in its place a message that read: "This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy on shocking and disgusting content."

Shortly after Fox News Channel originally aired the car chase near Phoenix, which culminated in showing the suspect shooting himself in the head, a seemingly shaken anchor Shepard Smith apologized to viewers.

"We really messed up, and we're all very sorry," Smith said.

He said the videotape was supposed to be on a 5-second delay, to allow the station to cut away if necessary.

That claim was echoed by a Fox News executive.

"We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five second delay," said Michael Clemente, executive vice president of news editorial.

"Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen."

It wasn't immediately clear whether the gunman survived.

In website Politico.com provided a comment from BuzzFeed spokesperson Ashley McCollum: "Making an editorial decision on how to cover a sensitive, tragic news event like this is never an easy one. But it is, indeed, a news event and we are a news organization. We posted both an edited version and the full version and we respect our readers' judgment."

More frequently than its television rivals, Fox News Channel picks up car chases from its local affiliates and airs them live. It can be gripping television, and often provides a short-term ratings boost as viewers tune in to see how it ends.

Critics say the chases themselves rarely rise to the level of national news.

More on Crimesider
Sept. 28, 2012 - Man shoots himself in head on live TV after car chase near Phoenix

  • Barry Leibowitz

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