Maysoon Zayid, an actress and comedian, summed up the collective sentiment toward cable networks Wednesday night as the horrific news of nine people shot dead during Bible study in a black church in Charleston began to unfold.
“SHAME ON CABLE NEWS!” Zayid wrote on Twitter at 2:02 a.m. “What the hell is the point if you’re not going to cover a massacre and an ongoing manhunt LIVE???? #AMEShooting”
Actor Rob Lowe, whose son, Matthew, did an internship in Washington in 2011 and worked for then-House Maj. Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) , was also tough on the media, particularly toward CNN.
“The media should be ashamed,” he scolded on Twitter at at 12:01 a.m. “3 hours to get on air and then gives detailed suspect description WITHOUT mentioning his race. #Charleston.”
Lowe complained that the network initially refused to reveal the gunman’s race. “Lead CNN producer and official statement talk of ‘clean shaven, slender and hoodies.’ Only others add that he was white. #Charleston,” he wrote. “…Look, I’d just like a consistent, FULL description (when clearly there is one) when a mass killer is on the loose. White, black or green.”
Tone deaf would be putting things mildly.
As news of the massacre began trickling out, most accurately on social media, CNN was still busy with the comparably ridiculous news of Brian Williams returning to NBC. Instead of CNN live on the scene, you had “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter talking with two British anchors about Williams’s TV suspension coming to an end.
“What the shit?” asked The Daily Banter‘s White House correspondent Tommy Christopher. “CNN’s British fill-ins are doing a live hit about Brian Williams.”
Stelter, who can’t be blamed for decisions that are well over his head, quickly tried to defend himself. “We taped this a few hours ago,” he replied.
Oliver Griswold, who works in brand strategy at GMMB in Washington, also wasn’t looking to cable news for, well, news. “Sticking with Twitter thx,” he said, responding to an MSNBC tweet that announced, “Tune into @msnbc for live coverage of the Charleston, South Carolina shooting.” (MSNBC had shifted to affiliate reporting. And host Al Sharpton literally phoned it in.)
Fox News was no more informative at this hour. As the news unfolded late night, you saw a repeat of Megyn Kelly interviewing Howard Kurtz on — what else — the return of Brian Williams to NBC.
Christopher added, “I can’t believe how badly cable news is shitting the bed on the Charleston shooting. CNN has British anchors. Fox and MSNBC are reruns.”
Christopher, known for accusing people of racism and for not eating watermelon to support the plight of African Americans everywhere, went all racial on their network asses. “Can’t help think if this was a black guy shooting 9 white people at a…ANYWHERE, it wouldn’t take 3+ hours to get live,” he wrote.
Evil Jeff Zucker, the parody Twitter account for CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, had choice words for the network. “If there was another shooting that occurs in US tomorrow, does @CNN still go with #TheSeventies if @CNN is the supposed place for news?” the writer asked. The individual also facetiously asked, “So if @cnn is the place for news then can’t a competent @cnn anchor chug some coffee and do some news about Charleston?”
EJZ took a moment to mention CNN’s relentless missing Malaysian plane coverage: “Would @cnn have Don Lemon or someone more credible cover Charleston if let’s say #mh370 was located in Charleston? #whynot”
Even Thursday morning, as news of the shooter’s name and Facebook page emerged, the cable news networks announced the suspected gunman’s name — Dylann Storm Roof — some 30 minutes after online news sites first began reporting it.