In the wake of today’s news that deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is presumed dead, images surfaced of Gaddafi’s corpse. Though U.S. officials are still confirming Gaddafi’s death, Stateside 24-hour networks had a tough call to make as to whether they should broadcast the cell phone footage originally obtained by Al Jazeera. Many of them (CBS, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC) decided to go ahead and air the images with a disclaimer that they were graphic and disturbing. But was it too far?
The FCC is currently not commenting on whether or not it has received any complaints, but EW obtained a statement from MSNBC parent NBC News about their controversial decision. Said a spokesperson, “We are reviewing everything that’s coming in and are not putting anything on the air that hasn’t been carefully screened. We want to give our audience the most accurate reports possible without crossing a line into offensive or unnecessarily graphic material. We feel the footage that has aired meets those boundaries, and we’re constantly in touch with producers about what is and is not acceptable.”
A still from the cell phone video can be seen here. What do you think? Was the decision to air the footage correct? Do viewers have a right to see this kind of imagery, or should they be shielded from the atrocities of conflict? Do news organizations have a responsibility to accuracy as NBC News suggests, or does this decision represent a breach of taste and ethics?