More good news from the (nearly) gun-free paradise on Lake Michigan. No matter what the courts may say, the city stands united in its opposition to guns. From the Mayor to the city council to the police department to the local media outlets, consensus has been reached. Guns are bad and that fact must be driven home. By any means necessary. Including the exploitation of a child to illustrate the horrifying pervasiveness of gun violence in the Windy City…
Following in the finest traditions of Dateline NBC and CBS news dean Dan Rather, it appears that WBBM decided to dramatically illustrate the destructive influence that guns have made in Chicago. No matter how much editing it took.
In a typical south Chicago summer evening occurrence, two people were shot while “just standing on the street.” And kids as young as four were there to witness it. So the crack WBBM reporter decided to round up some of the kiddies and get a heart-rending quote to show the folks at home just how guns and violence have corrupted even the city’s youngest citizens.
Only one problem. The cute little tyke who told the man with the microphone “I’m gonna have me a gun” when he grows up also went on to say that the reason he needed a gun was that he wanted to be a police officer. And that little bit of clarification was left on the cutting room floor.
The predictable shitstorm of criticism that has rained down on the station from critics like “professional journalist goups” and the local NAACP chapter has been fierce. WBBM was accused of depicting the well-meaning kid as a “gangster in waiting.” And Ben Jealous, local NAACP president, after accusing the station of broadcasting a lie, refreshingly wondered where the little urchin’s parents were.
All of which has resulted in the usual apology from station management.
We accept responsibility for the mistakes that were made, both in the reporting and editing of the story. The video of the child should not have aired. As soon as news management identified the problem, they took immediate steps to ensure that the video would not air in subsequent newscasts. In addition, we have followed up with our employees to make sure that we all have learned from the mistakes that were made.
While we would never advocate or excuse such a thing, it’s stunts such as this that almost make the desire to ping reporters with BB guns understandable.