CBS News President David Rhodes Defends Decision to Air Parkland Shooting Video
'CBS This Morning' co-anchor Gayle King said she was concerned about broadcasting grainy cell phone footage taken during the Feb. 14 high school shooting.
Gayle King, who co-hosts the newsy morning show CBS This Morning, was initially uncomfortable with the idea of broadcasting grainy cell phone footage taken by students as a gunman shot up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
She expressed her hesitation in a phone call with CBS News president David Rhodes, she recalled: "I remember being on the phone with David, saying, 'I don't know if we should show that video. No. 1, it makes me very uncomfortable. It's very painful to watch. And, are we really doing viewers a service by showing them that?'"
Rhodes, who was honored on Thursday night with the Radio Television Digital News Foundation's First Amendment Service Award, assured King that showing the video was in line with the journalistic mission of the show and the network. "And, I got it," King said in a video celebrating Rhodes. "I got it."
"Like anyone should, Gayle really did have trouble with those images," Rhodes told the crowd at Marriott Marquis hotel in Washington, D.C. "Our discussion was: who are we to decide that the truth shouldn't be seen by a wider audience? If these images can be put in appropriate context by our reporters, aren't they important for people to see? Our job as a news organization is to reveal these events, not conceal them."
Rhodes said it was "a fair criticism" for the network to be dinged for airing graphic footage on the day of the shooting — during a special report — without a proper warning to the audience.
"But not showing these pictures at all just aids bad actors who fear that the truth could lead to policy consequences, or, much worse, conspiracy theorists who want you think that it didn't even happen," he said. "You have to ask yourself, 'Who is being helped by us not doing this coverage?"