Fox News, in its never-ending quest to bring live car chases to the afternoon news round-up, is under fire tonight for accidentally showing live footage of an Arizona carjacking suspect running away from his vehicle and then committing suicide.
The network, as it does many afternoons, was covering a high-speed car chase after an alleged carjacking suspect led police on a high-speed chase that went on for more than an hour through Phoenix, Arizona. And of course, as with many a urban car chase, a Fox helicopter followed along, shooting as the driver dodged police car after police car before pulling off a weeded side road.
And as the vehicle pulled over and the man jumped out, anchor Shepard Smith, in that deadpan way he has, commented second-by-second, at one point saying it's "always possible the guy is on something."
That was before the man pulled out a gun and aimed...and you could hear the once-steady tones of good old Shepard yelling — as the rest of the newsroom gasped:
“Get off, get off, get off. Get off it! Get off it! Get off it."
Then the shot rang out — and Fox broke to commercial.
When they came back, a visibly shaken Smith had his apology ready.
“We really messed up, and we’re all really sorry,” said Smith, who was caught cringing on camera for a few seconds after the man pointed the gun to his head. “That didn’t belong on TV.”
But now it's not only on TV, but all over Internet news, YouTube, you name it, that guy is being shown now. And here's what Fox's executive vice-president for news Michael Clemente had to say:
We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five second delay. Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen.
But what Fox hasn't said is if it's going to quit covering car chases, or do like a lot of stations do — cut away at the end before the guy in the car has a chance to do what this guy did live on Fox today.