Allow me to ask the question a different way: Have they crossed the line from news coverage to network promotion?
Last night on CNN's "Out in the Open" hosted by Rick Sanchez, he had a lively discussion/debate with an African-American comic who had worn a noose like a necktie as "a fashion accessory." The segment began:
This is comedian Katt Williams. he wore a noose around his own neck on purpose, he turned it into a fashion accessory as he posed at the BET Hip-Hop awards a few weeks ago. Katt Williams is brave enough to join us to try and explain why he would do something like this.So CNN found a comic who wore a noose "a few weeks ago" as the subject of a debate last night -- a debate rerun this morning on CNN. A little bit later, CNN aired a live discussion featuring two guests, with the caption "Noose Incidents: More Cases or More Coverage?"
This is a serious question, since copycat concerns should always be in the minds of journalists covering hate crimes and the like. But in keeping tabs on the other cable networks, I didn't see any coverage of the Noose Crisis in America. (And a search on TVEyes showed no mention of the word "noose" on Fox News or MSNBC today or yesterday.) Which is fine, after all. It's their prerogative and news judgment. But why the bump in CNN's coverage? Why did they keep coming back to the topic?
So I clicked over to CNN's website and I think I got my answer:
In the wake of the Jena 6 story, all of America has seen a resurgence in images that connote intolerance – be they swastikas at George Washington University or swastikas and nooses at Columbia University. And it's a trend that's worth keeping an eye on, to be sure.
But when one network makes it a priority item – while it doesn't merit a mere mention on the competition, mind you – in the day before it airs a special on the issue, that's when you start to wonder who is making the news decisions.
If CNN wants to make sure viewers know about the special tonight, more power to them and I hope people watch. But isn't that what commercials are for?
(Particularly when CNN mentioned its July YouTube Debate on-air 117 times in the day leading up to it.)