The Cruelest Trend in Media

There is an over-used expression: You can’t imagine how bad it was.

We use that saying to describe terrible acting in a movie, an awkward social situation and even as a dramatic way to answer a friend asking how our day was. “Awful! You can’t imagine how bad.”

But there’s one time when the phrase is painfully accurate. What parents rarely admit and would never dare to speak out loud is that we literally prevent ourselves from even imagining what our lives would be like if we lost a child. Even when we are diligently playing out scenarios of the fourteen things that could go wrong at any given time, we shudder and pivot as soon as we get too deep down a dark thought. To stop for a moment and even slightly FEEL the possibility…we can’t. It’s too awful.

When teenage boys and girls are shot by police unworthy of the uniform, their most unflattering photos and mischievous anecdotes have been trotted out to build the case in the court of public opinion that they somehow had it coming. We as the public have allowed murdered kids to become political fodder because we fell for the idea that we were advancing an important and complicated discussion. What we were actually doing was accepting the notion that public execution is okay if you can somehow tell yourself that it would never happen to you or yours.

Taboos in the entertainment industry fell by the wayside years ago, but journalists – as some of them are quick to haughtily remind us – are supposed to have higher standards. So why are so many of them engaging in the newest cruel trend of torturing grieving parents who experienced the unimaginable.


They’ll claim that it’s their right. They’ll plead for us to see it as “brave journalism”.

The media upped the ante with photographs and videos being widely circulated of newly dead bodies executed in museums or washed up on shore – even replaying social media videos of murders as they happened – all while rationalizing that absorbing that imagery makes us MORE sophisticated and that exploiting the dead is actually a way to honor them…between commercials for paper towels and credit cards with airline points of course.

Some tsk-tsked when hosts like Sean Hannity made the murder of Seth Rich into a game of connecting conspiracy theory dots. Sure there were some who made calls to advertisers, but far too many shrugged off the torment being inflicted on Seth’s parents as Fox being Fox. “Hannity just says stuff. What are you going to do?” Hannity may or may not be back on the air, but you’d be hard pressed to convince me that he paid a high enough price unless it included unsupervised time alone with Seth’s family.

Now Megyn Kelly and NBC are looking to cash in on this latest craze by inviting a guest star to calmly discuss the idea that the massacre at Sandy Hook never really happened at all. Jogging right past “maybe they deserved it” and “maybe it’s part of a large sinister plot”, Ms. Kelly and the Peacock Producers intend to gaslight the families of twenty babies and six heroes – on Father’s Day no less – with the most disgusting taunt to date. How do we even know they’re really dead?

They’ll claim that it’s their right. They’ll plead for us to see it as “brave journalism”. They’ll point to feigned shock or bluster at various moments in the interview as indicators that they were somehow defending the families of this tragedy. Let’s get real and call this what it is: powerful people flaunting the latest style of the old-fashioned act of being mean.

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