I'd like to respond to the New York Times editorial which criticized me and other TV anchors for our coverage of the execution of Timothy McVeigh.
The Times says we turned McVeigh into a celebrity, as if infamy is the same as the cover of People magazine.
Called a Critic's Notebook, the piece attacked Wolf Blitzer of CNN and Katie Couric of NBC for asking questions the writer didn't like ... and she attacked me for being me, I guess.
It went like this:
On the Fox News Channel, John Gibson rhetorically jumped up and down after a woman who watched (McVeigh die) on closed circuit television and said it was a 'slap in the face' when Mr. McVeigh turned his head away. Mr. Gibson, inflammatory as usual, didn't spend time wondering whether the people watching thousands of miles away were imposing ideas on an image they could not truly come close to.
In the view of the New York Times critic, my offense was that I didn't say the families of the victims watching Tim McVeigh's face as he died were wrong when they saw him glaring (in their words), or saw him as being defiant (also in their words).
What she wanted me to say was that the victims' families were imposing their anger on McVeigh, and what they reported they saw did not actually occur. That he didn't glare, that he didn't seem to address them with a hostile stare, that — in fact — he was just a man dying.
So there you have it. A reporting lesson from the New York Times. Don't take what people say. Instead, trust whatever a Times reporter says because they are the ones who have exclusive access to the truth.
The Times reporter knows Tim McVeigh didn't glare. Me? I don't know that. I didn't see it.
The Times reporter knows the victims' families were imposing their own feelings of hostility and anger onto McVeigh. Me? I don't know that, because I didn't see it.
I was just reporting what others told me they saw. That doesn't suit the New York Times?
Far worse things have happened to me in my professional life.
Am I inflammatory? Sure. That must have occurred to the reporter when I reminded people that McVeigh was disappointed he didn't bring the entire Murrah building down — and one can assume — kill even more.
That isn't me being inflammatory. That is McVeigh being inflammatory. It's hard to greater inflame what is already a conflagration.
And P.S. I don't think the questions from Wolf or Katie were so bad either.
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