Tragedy in the Mine

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I am sure we all feel the same: heartbroken over the miners. Tuesday night before the show, I had little or no hope. After speaking to people during the show, I gained some hope. It seemed possible they could all be alive. Now we all know the news. Words don't adequately express the sorrow. There is not a person I know who is not heartbroken.

But here is one matter we should talk about: During the show I received many e-mails about our discussion in the show that the mine had many safety citations during the year. Many thought we should not discuss it... or wait. I thought about it — and have thought about it again this morning — and the more I think about it, the more I think it was the right thing to do. We needed to talk about it when it would get the most attention.

Here is why: If, and I emphasize if, the citations were not routine and were a red flag that the mine was an "accident waiting to happen," shame on all those who knew and let those men go in there.

But more importantly today, if those citations were a red flag, and IF THERE IS ANOTHER MINE SOME PLACE ELSE WITH THOSE SAME RED FLAGS WITH MINERS GOING IN, shame on all of us if we now look the other way. We now know more about mining today than we did Monday before the explosion. If there is a mine full of safety violations, and if those violations were flags to this tragedy, we need to take reasonable steps and quickly about those other mines. The mine owners and our government need to act to protect other miners who could be at risk. We — including you — can be an important catalyst to getting them to do what is reasonable and prudent.

Yes, mining is dangerous. Yes, the miners and the families know it is dangerous and they elect to do it. But the miners and their families make the fair assumption that the mine meets safety standards. If there is a known dangerous mine with safety issues, we — and you — need to know it and we need to back up these families and demand the mine meets safety standards.

It is indeed true we could have waited until today to discuss the safety citations, but somehow it just seems we could not afford to wait. I don't know what lurks out there in terms of unsafe mines — maybe there are none — but if there are, we can't wait. I also suspect that last night was a time when we would have high interest by viewers in mining — and mining safety is an important topic and I would like to maximize attention on the safety issue in other mines (should there be other safety issues elsewhere.) My guess is that the miners who perished in this mine and their families would agree. They are a close-knit group and support each other.

Yes, much is not known today about what caused this tragedy, but we need to act quickly and strongly to meet the challenges presented — whatever they may be. Good judgment is needed to make sure these mines are as safe as reasonably can be expected.

Here is a sample of the e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

First of all I am a huge FOX News fan and will continue to be but... I have "BITCHED" about this all day and will continue to as long as I hear it on FOX. Why do you people keep on about the violations at this mine? I understand it is your job to report the news, but come on. These families have a member missing and all you are doing is throwing fuel on the fire. There will be plenty of time to put this mine on trial and believe me they will go to trial. Also give it up about trying to get someone to name the person whose body has been found. Just like all day I will not get a response, but at least I know I sent an e-mail expressing my feelings.
Thanks from a very faithful FOX fan,
Everett L. Reed

E-mail No. 2

There seems to be a great deal of attention on the violations on the mine. Granted this will be an issue to be resolved at a later date. However, are the mine violations like those of the Health Department? The Health Department in most areas writes violations every time they visit, just to prove they were there and to "keep their jobs." Are the mine violations significant violations? If so why did the mine inspectors not close the mine down before the accident had a chance to occur?
Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and the miners and we hope for the best possible outcome in this terrible tragedy.
Thank you for your time and for keeping everyone informed with only the facts. Keep up the good work!
Sabrina Brown
Bristol, TN

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