funeral.jpgLook, no disrespect to President Ford or to the guy who apparently collapsed a moment before the speeches at Saturday’s funeral in the Capitol rotunda, but I found it kind of chilling when someone told the networks to stop showing the bustle surrounding the man who fainted and show nothing but the president’s coffin until further notice.
Or rather, I found it chilling when that edict was given and all three networks and CNN and C-SPAN instantaneously complied.
I was watching NBC and Brian Williams was respectfully commentating as paramedics hurried in and gave care to an unidentified funeral guest who must have fainted or collapsed. The network was switching between a tight shot of jostling backs and medics, that really didn’t show much, and the cool from-above shot of the rotunda floor, which was disturbed by the motion in the lower corner of the screen and the splash of orange from the medical equipment.
Then suddenly the shot switched to the coffin at the center and held there, as Williams announced that – out of respect for the privacy of the man who fainted – the networks had all been told to show only the coffin until the man had been moved out of the rotunda.
I flipped quickly through all the channels and they all had the exact same shot. Like immediately. I suppose it could be that the feed from all the other cameras was cut off and that was the only image the networks were even given – not sure how the feeds work in a situation like that.
I know that the occasion deserves respect and decorum, and I know that the guy who fainted doesn’t deserve to be a national spectacle just ’cause of where he fainted and when. But when a quick decision by the government running the event gets instantaneous compliance from the media it makes me anxious – and a little sad.
Especially when you think about how without a free press Ford wouldn’t have even been president.
It felt even weirder when the person who took the podium immediately after that was Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who’d probably be happy if the government could dictate exactly what’s on TV – and the Internet – all the time.