You may recall that last September, Fox News aired a car chase that culminated in JoDon Romero getting out of his car and shooting himself in the head. His suicide was aired on Fox before they could cut to commercial, and Shepard Smith apologized on the air for showing it. Now, Romero’s three young children (one of them only nine years old) have filed suit against Fox News, claiming the cable channel’s airing of their father’s suicide has caused them serious emotional distress.
I feel bad for the victim’s kids — how could you not? — but what a ridiculously frivolous lawsuit. It may have turned out to be in bad taste, but there’s no law against bad taste. Fox News had a First Amendment right to show the video, accidentally or not.
We’ve seen video of all sorts of monstrous tragedies — the World Trade Center collapse, the tsunamis in Japan and Thailand, two space shuttle explosions, assorted plane crashes . . . Can you imagine if events like these were followed by lawsuits against the TV channels that showed them, complaining about emotional distress?
That’s what the news IS. Every “good” story is emotionally distressing to someone.
This lawsuit is just plain silly.