Monday, July 30, 2007

Chopper Crash Blame Game: Driver or Media?

A nice one for the families,, via AP Photo/La Voz-The Arizona Republic, AJ Alexander

On Friday, you have probably heard, there was a not-so-crazy car chase in Phoenix, Arizona. During the chase, two media choppers - each holding a pilot and cameraman - collided and dropped to the ground, leaving no survivors.

In examining the wreckage and maintenance logs for possible causes of the crash, police have come to one possible answer: blame it on Christopher J. Jones, the cause of the chase.


Yes, the police are now looking at charging Chris Jones with four counts of murder on top of everything else. I am not a bleeding heart "the criminal is the victim" sort, especially when some jackass steals a car and runs from police. But the helicopter crash falls far from his lap.

I'm not going into a diatribe on media morality, but if it bleeds, it leads, and if those photogs had captured a spectacular pile-up, violent suicide, or hostage event, the footage would have led every news hour for a week and they might even have been up for a local Emmy. This means more viewers, more ratings, more money, etc.

If a police officer died in pursuit of Chris Jones, another charge is not out of the question; an officer's job is to serve the public good, and while an official chase is not without questions of necessity, better to get a criminal off the streets than not.

But that's not what happened; somebody fucked up while chasing the $USDs pinned to Chris Jones's ass, and now four people are dead.

I could reductio ad absurdum this into the ground or reduce it to the station's fault for having certain policies or equipment, the police's fault for giving chase, or even God's fault (because, in the end, doesn't He run the show?).

Adding criminal charges to Chris Jones because a couple peeping toms with media passes and helicopters killed each other is like blaming the malaria the National Geographic photog gets on the antelope that was taken down by the lion.

I'm still searching for words, but unless it's the simple, obvious, "everyone loves a patsy and we've already got one" angle, how does this even make sense?

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