The disgraceful coverage of the horrific tragedy that killed LA Lakers great Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and protege, Gianna and seven others has evolved into a real-life episode of Black Mirror.
In this age of “anything goes” in the name of lucrative traffic numbers, clicks, and the blessing of being a viral sensation, we’ve been given an unfiltered and utterly disgusting preview of how humans have transitioned into rabid animals, who will steadfastly gnash razor-sharp teeth for littered prey.
Less than an hour after the death of Kobe Bryant was confirmed, Twitter was ablaze with a resurrected controversy. It was the reactivation of an old article by The Daily Beast. The in-depth analysis covers the 2004 rape case involving Bryant, a heralded basketball star, and the woman who accused him of sexual assault.
The case was eventually dismissed and a civil lawsuit filed against Bryant was settled for an undisclosed amount.
A reporter from The Washington Post, was quite confident in her quest to capitalize on the momentum of a momentous death announcement.
Of course it helps when an accumulating number of online supporters cheer your efforts to vilify a notable figure, who just perished under gruesome circumstances alongside unidentified passengers.
Hours later, we discovered the heartbreaking updates that included the official confirmation of the death of Bryant’s daughter, two of her teammates, and five other adults.
In the midst of the maddening chaos, false reporting ran rampant, as ABC boldly declared that all four of Bryant’s daughter were on board the doomed aircraft. There was also the creation of #RIPRickFox, which warranted the swift clarification by the former Laker’s own daughter.
The ABC reporter who recklessly cosigned information that hadn’t been vetted was suspended, instead of fired. The Washington Post reporter was abruptly suspended, even though her actions were more reflective of her inhumanness and bad judgement and not necessarily a breach of contract.
Things took an even direr turn when CBS decided to jump on the bandwagon of forced redemption for the dead, by recruiting the services of bonafide iron lady Gayle King, who gained fame for not flinching in the presence of an irate R. Kelly during that infamous interview in 2019.
King sat down with Bryant’s longtime friend and basketball pro, Lisa Leslie, less than a week after the tragedy to discuss fond memories of the iconic sportsman.
When King pushed Leslie into a tight corner in an effort to prove how Bryant’s innocence couldn’t be verified by the unreliable testimony of a biased witness in mourning, that’s when journalistic integrity took a nose dive.
There were plenty of angry and pained naysayers, who were stunned at King’s display of callousness as a veteran journalist who coldly displayed zero empathy.
But Snoop Dogg got the attention of the devious media, and his public lashing was well-deserved. If he had stuck to the messaging without the unnecessary venomous attack, it would’ve been Gayle King and CBS on the hot seat. The pressure would’ve forced a formal apology to Vanessa Bryant and her remaining daughters.
Weeks later, the embattled LA rapper and media personality has recently completed his apology tour with the help of his mother, and a scheduled seat at the Red Table Talk hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith and her two related sidekicks.
There’s no doubt that Snoop Dogg’s offensive delivery, which caused King to hideout from death threats is an entryway into an ongoing internal issue within the community that desperately needs attention.
It was aggravating to witness mainstream media outlets like MSNBC, feature prominent white talking heads addressing Snoop Dogg’s unfortunate misstep, as if they could possibly fathom the basics of what’s being hijacked for ratings.
Gayle accepted Snoop’s third round of apologies, and in her reply, she seemed to allude to the complexities of her station, and how it can lead to the wrath of critics who don’t comprehend the totality of what journalists must perform, come what may,
But is that really how we should wrap up this trail of ugliness?
Are we not capable of moderating a cohesive debate that encompasses every aspect of a major disaster that signifies the rotten core of national coverage, that should never veer into dangerous territory?
We can’t even count on the dependable guidance of illustrious names, who have been in the business long enough to know that “journalistic integrity” doesn’t mean obeying viral hashtags and threads. It also doesn’t allow inappropriate questioning that invalidates the factual items of a legal case, in the absence of the dead and in the presence of surviving relatives.
Oprah are you listening?
It’s not about canonizing Kobe Bryant because this mess is bigger than his global adulation. It’s about the missed opportunity to demonstrate the fundamentals of reportage for the upcoming generation of newsmen and newswomen who are being robbed of that privilege.
We are embodying a period of great duress, that unleashes nonstop breaking news of the worst kind, as if what we’re privy to is the normalized form of communication.
Also, why did LA County Sheriff’s Deputies, who were first responders to the Calabasas crash site decide to illegally share pictures of human remains on the hillside, after Vanessa Bryant took a trip to the Sheriff’s office on the day she lost both her husband and child, to request a “no-fly zone” and barricades to ward off photographers.
According to multiple reports, the graphic photos of Bryant, his daughter , and the other victims were eagerly distributed amongst employees of the LA Fire Dept. That led to the carelessness of a “trainee,” who allegedly showed the gruesome images on his mobile phone to a woman he was trying to woo at a local bar.
Miraculously, a human in the midst of monsters who was tending the bar, overheard the grossness and heroically filed a report with the Sheriff’s Department, who are said to be “looking into the matter,” because the “trainee” revealed classified information “in a setting that had nothing to do with the investigation.”
The Sheriff’s Dept. also notified family members of a new horror to add to their current torment, and the briefing was done mainly to handle the deluge of media inquiries about the pending situation.
I’m here to say that our system is broken.
Media relations is both volatile and criminal. And the tools of engagement that were supposed to bond our humaneness have conspired against us in ways that are tragically irrevocable.
We can count on cellphones for the demonstration of societal dysfunction that can’t be helped because of the empowering of well-positioned sleaze-bags, who somehow qualified for the roles that they deface for the thrill of one-of-a-kind pictorials of death scenes.
We can trust news organizations to opt for the salacious angle of an unbearably devastating event that should evoke an inherently sensitive approach, but ends up being battered into a “must-see expose” because that’s the kind of treatment that translates in the morbid age of Donald Trump.
The Sheriff’s Deputies shared the fresh violence of the crash site because we are immune to bloody viral videos that we thought would solve the problem of how we don’t duly recognize graphic violence against abused communities.
As it turns out, our level of intolerance is staggeringly high, to the point that dead bodies of teenage girls and dead parents can be the ideal intro to future dates with a girl at a popular watering hole.
If you think the law is on your side, wait until you overhear a Sheriff’s Deputy excitedly share how he spent his work hours.
Or you can stay tuned for the news.
Either way it’s all fucked!