All-Star Panel: Discussion of media coverage of Sandy Hook shooting

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Sometimes we take viewers' questions and comments and we bring them to you. This is from Gillian Leibowitz who writes, quote, "I would like to hear some discussion regarding the media coverage of the terrible school shooting, and indescribably sad situation in Connecticut. If "Special Report" won't do it, no one will. I cannot be the only one to find the endless coverage troubling for what it says about the media and its viewers. We seem to be a society which insists on concrete answers rather than coping with the incomprehensible, and which personifies through vicarious experience, seeking tragic catharsis without giving due respect to reality. Thinking this way does -- does not lessen the horror of what has happened in Sandy Hook and what is happening to those involved; it simply acknowledges that no amount of TV coverage can lessen it or make observers a part of it. And that only our respectful sympathy is appropriate. It has happened to them, not to us." Gillian, thank you for the email, we are back with the panel, hence the audible to address the media coverage of this. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, in some way it's like the classic question posed by the Holocaust for example. Eli Wiesel basically wrote the books early after the Holocaust saying the only appropriate answer is silence. There's nothing you can say in words that will be adequate to the task in it, in some ways it diminishes it just by speaking about it. So that's always the problem. On the other hand, silence is not an answer that society can accept. It has to talk about it. It has to discuss it. And in cases where it's not only in the past, but it may lie in the future these kind of massive killings you have to talk about it because of the politics, what you can do. So I do agree with the viewer in some sense that there is an over emphasis and I think the blanket coverage is perhaps too much. You know, people say what do we tell our children? Well, I would -- you can shut off the media, so it doesn't have to invade the life of a three year- old, a six-year-old, a nine-year-old living in a different part of the United States, but in the end it will penetrate, because that's the kind of global culture that we live in. And if it's going to, let's talk about it, and let's be reasonable about solutions that might work.

BAIER: Mara?


BAIER: Non-stop coverage ...


LIASSON: Yeah, look, everything the media does is too much. I mean almost everything the media does. In any extreme -- covering any kind of horrible violent or extreme situation, is just by definition, too much.  Because there's too much media. I mean -- if I may say so, there is 24- hours a day, there's a million channels, it's on the Internet. And this is the kind of thing that people can understand and relate to, and they can't get enough of it. I sympathize with the viewer. I don't know what we could do about it. You've got to mourn appropriately, you've got to try to figure out what you can do to prevent something like this from happening in the future. But, you know, I think that respect for the families is the bottom line here.

BAIER: Steve.

STEVE HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yeah, and I think for me the question is not that it is being covered, but how it is being covered. And I remember back when I was in journalism school -- this was a long time ago in our original reporting in writing one class. One of the assignments was to go out and find in the newspaper the family of someone who had just been killed or just died and set up an interview. And I went to the professor and said I am not going to do that assignment, I'm not comfortable doing that, particularly for a journalism school class. And I had a personal experience dealing with this back in the Gulf War when one of my good friends was killed in the fighting over in Saudi Arabia. And his house became a campout for these news cameras and we were so angry at the reporters who were there all the time.  And, you know, the second you walked out of the front door they were there with a microphone in your face. But I will say that after covering 9/11 and being in New York on the 12th, you get a different sense to a certain extent. There are family members who want to tell their story and want that person to be remembered and to be remembered in the particular way that they are telling the story.

BAIER: Balance. That's what we are trying to do here. And hopefully we will on "Special Report." That's it for the panel. And stay tuned to find out what else is coming to Washington, D.C. this holiday season besides Santa.

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