NBC News’ switchboard and email inboxes were jammed this week with complaint after complaint from viewers outraged that they were shown footage of a tragic plane crash in Austin on tape delay only.
“It’s a disgrace,” said emailer Jim Atwell.“You people at NBC should be completely disgusted with yourselves.It’s the 21stcentury, and you’re still airing plane crashes on tape delay?FOR SHAME.”
The crash, in which disgruntled software engineer Joseph Stack deliberately piloted a small plane into an Austin building that housed offices of both the FBI and IRS, was shown on the MSNBC network well after it had taken place.Many viewers expressed annoyance that they knew the results of the crash well before they went to tune in.
“Whoever is in charge of programming this crash should be hit with a plane,” said emailer Fran Walters.“I had already read about the crash online.And here comes NBC, Mr. Johnny Come Lately, with the footage of burning buildings and ambulances ten minutes later?Pathetic.”
A voicemail left by viewer David Fursby was even more vituperative.“This is a marquee news event.How does NBC explain NOT showing us the footage of this crash live, as it occurred?”
After leaving his voicemail, Fursby noted to reporters that this is not the first time NBC News has practiced such chicanery.
“It’s unconscionable.They show us footage of the Austin plane crash.Then, just when I was getting into it, they switch over to footage of the Haiti earthquake.And THAT was on tape delay too!And in between that, I had to suffer through some God awful puff piece about a soldier in Iraq whose father died when he young.Are you kidding me?”
NBC News president Steve Capus defended his network’s programming choices.
“We don’t actually have cameras there live when a plane crash occurs, because it is a spontaneous event,” said Capus.“While a minority of loud voices may complain about not being able to see the crash live, the fact is that tape delaying our coverage hasn’t hurt our bottom line one bit.”
Capus noted that ratings for the crash were up 10% over the network’s coverage of the Buffalo plane crash of May 2009.
“We’re going to keep doing what is in the best interests of out network,” said Capus.
That statement didn’t sit well with viewers like Fursby.
“I hope FOX wins the rights to the next plane crash,” he said, shaking with anger.