Fox News accidentally airs Arizona carjacking suspect's suicide on live television
'That was wrong, and that won't happen again on my watch, and I'm sorry,' said anchor Shepard Smith in an on-air apology after the a man was seen pointing a gun to his head and pulling the trigger. The man was fleeing police in a high-speed chase after an alleged carjacking.
"Embarrassed Fox News executives and shocked viewers from coast to coast were horrified Friday when the network aired an Arizona carjacker's suicide on live television. The stunning feed of the fleeing suspect putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger aired at3:31p.m., with anchor Shepard Smith caught cringing before the coverage ended — seconds too late. "Get off, get off, get off," said a clearly distraught Smith, his voice rising as the man's deadly intent became clear. "Get off it! Get off it! Get off it!" The network blamed human error for the gruesome gaffe, with one source indicating a Fox producer was slow to cut away from live coverage of what started as a high-speed police chase. The unidentified man was pronounced dead in the Arizona outback shortly after Fox viewers watched the mortally wounded suspect fall face-first to the ground. Fox News veteran Smith, after the network abruptly cut to commercial, returned to the air with a lengthy apology for the fatal fiasco...".* Ana Kasparian, Cenk Uygur, Ben Mankiewicz, Jesus Godoy discuss on The Young Turks.
Shepard Smiths explains and apologizes for airing a suicide after a car chase live on Fox News on September 28 2012
The network blamed human error for the gruesome gaffe, with one source indicating a Fox producer was slow to cut away from live coverage of what started as a high-speed police chase.
The unidentified man was pronounced dead in the Arizona outback shortly after Fox viewers watched the mortally wounded suspect fall face-first to the ground.
Fox News veteran Smith, after the network abruptly cut to commercial, returned to the air with a lengthy apology for the fatal fiasco.
Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith repeats the command "get off it" to his staff in the studio as footage of the suicide is broadcast on live television.
“We really messed up, and we’re all really sorry,” said Smith. “That didn’t belong on TV. . . . And I personally apologize to you that it happened.
“It is insensitive, it is just wrong,” he continued. “And that was wrong. And that won’t happen again on my watch.”
The network said nothing about possible disciplinary action over the morbid miscue, which became an instant YouTube and Twitter sensation.
But a Fox News source said the Studio B control room was in “utter shock” after the suicide — a sentiment likely shared by its 1.8 million afternoon viewers, who witnessed the death from their couches.
A producer at the network’s Rockefeller Center newsroom “didn’t hit the dump button” fast enough to cut away from the live feed, the source said.
The reaction to the mistake was instantaneous.
The suspect had allegedly carjacked a red Dodge Caliber and reached speeds of up to 110 mph.
The running man was near the California border when he pulled off the road and raced from the car.
“Whoa!” came a shocked off-camera voice before Smith repeatedly shouted for someone to cut away from the Arizona coverage — immediately.
The network, beaming live footage from a KSAZ-TV helicopter, was operating on a five-second delay, according to Smith.
Just seconds before the man pulled the gun, the copter camera actually zoomed in on the distraught man wearing a black No. 81 football jersey and black pants.
Smith, while providing a play-by-play of the erratic man’s 90-minute run across Arizona, seemed to sense something was about to go awry near the small western town of Salome.
“This scares me,” he said. “You wait for the end of these things, and you worry about how they may end up. This makes me a little nervous, I’ve got to tell you. A little nervous.”
The armed suspect stole the four-door SUV at gunpoint from a couple outside a Phoenix restaurant, and then fired at police during his failed getaway, said city police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson.
Fox picked up the chase, with the fleeing felon speeding at up to 100 mph as he drove west along Interstate 10 toward California.
He killed himself about 80 miles east of the border, pumping a single bullet into his head on national television.
In the seconds before the suicide, Smith provided an impromptu play-by-play as the desperate man stumbled, collapsed and then regained his balance.
“He’s looking kind of erratic, isn’t he? ... It looks like he’s a little disoriented or something,” Smith said. “It’s always possible the guy could be on something.”
A ruckus could be heard in the studio background, as the suspect suddenly fired the gun with his right hand. Smith said the delay was supposed to prevent such an error.
“If anything went horribly wrong, we would be able to cut away from it without subjecting you to it,” said Smith.
Fox News Executive Vice President Michael Clemente issued his own apology for the network’s mistake.
The man desperately ran, but appeared to quickly realize that there was nowhere he could hid.
An alleged carjacking suspect led police on a high speed chase for more than an hour through Phoenix, Ariz., before pulling off the road and appearing to shoot himself in the head on live television.
“We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five-second delay,” he said.
“Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen.”
Fox, more than other national networks, airs live coverage of car chases from its affiliates — and even showed a Los Angeles police pursuit earlier Friday.
The Phoenix station had cut away from its chase coverage prior to the suicide.