Friday, February 08, 2008


Let the record show that CNN is not above the demagoguery and audience-baiting that Fox News perfected. I'm not talking about Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck, that's been going on for a while. I'm talking about their regular news people. Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton shot six people yesterday, killing four of them, before Kirkwood police shot and killed him. He has a history of clashes with the Kirkwood City Council. He received a number of parking violations stemming from his business concern - an asphalt business, I think. A friend was quoted by the Post-Dispatch as saying Thornton didn't want to be treated like "a slave." He was known as a gadfly. His family, in interviews with the Post-Dispatch, has suggested that he was goaded into the rampage by his treatment at the hands of the city council. Of course that's ridiculous. It's also bizarre - the family seems largely unrepentant for his actions. I'm not going to pass judgment - there seemed to be plenty of misplaced anger going on in that circle for quite a while. I am going to pass judgment on CNN anchor Tony Harris - and frankly, CNN in general, for having their field correspondent interview Thornton's brother. It doesn't matter that Thornton's brother said some particularly clueless and heinous things, statements that put the onus for the killings on the Kirkwood City Council - his brother murdered four people yesterday before he was killed. Why put any relative of his on the news not even twenty-four hours later? Harris incompetently cut off the interview as Thornton went on, and remarked in evident disgust that Thornton smirked as the camera pulled away from him. It was a petty moment of self-righteousness on Harris' part
, and made the entire Thornton family look culpable for Charles Thorntons' rampage. I fully expect to see one of the Thornton clan lined up like a fish in a barrel for Bill O'Reilly in the coming days, and surely his producers will be aware of this CNN interview.

I'm curious, too, that these murders haven't been as widely - or perhaps, compulsively - covered as others. The mall rampage in Nebraska this past December, for instance, preempted programming on all the major news networks. Was it just the case that since none of the news-commentary programs were showing at the time, this wouldn't become a major story? Does a station's schedule play into what is deemed major news? I don't care one way or another that there wasn't a breaking news tag for what happened last night, I just rather expected to see a news alert from Kirkwood on CNN - the mayor and some council members were shot (some of them killed), after all. Maybe it was just the wrong demographic.


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