Among the outlets covering today’s news conference, at which Marin County Assistant Deputy Chief Coroner Lt. Keith Boyd said Robin Williams’ personal assistant found him hanged in his bedroom, were several TV news outlets from which have come apologies for their coverage of the actor’s death.
ABC News apologized this morning for showing aerial live shots of Williams’ home on its website, after news broke of his death. “When we realized there was no news value to the live stream, we took it down immediately,” ABC News said this morning. “Our intention was not to be insensitive to his family, friends and fans, and for that we apologize.” Irate fans — and other media outlets — blasted the news division for the banner on its homepage that read “Watch Live: Aerials of Robin Williams’ Home” that hovered over ABC News’ report in which the family asked for privacy. The live stream was up for less than an hour before the news division saw reaction from viewers on social media and yanked it.
Also covering — Fox News Channel, whose Shep Smith said this morning he regrets using the word “coward” in talking about Williams’ death, after taking a verbal drubbing, online and on social media, over that choice of words. Speaking about Williams’ having once said his young children gave him a sense of wonder, Smith said last night, “It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they’re in their mid-20s, and they’re inspiring you, and exciting you, and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known. And yet, something inside you is so horrible, or you’re such a coward, or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.”
Among the outlets savaging Smith: Gawker, which snarked, “Might as well ask what kind of person would deride a man who was finally overwhelmed, after a lifelong battle, by an illness that had been at his door for fifty years or more. Because if you’re Shep Smith, that man’s a coward—making you, by comparison, a hero. Not a coward at all.”
Smith has been saying this morning he “could not be more sorry” if Williams’ family members are upset by the comment which, he has said, “just came out of my mouth.”
Meanwhile, CNN had entertainment reporter Nischelle Turner apologize on the air quickly after she went with the “demons” cliche yesterday, as she diagnosed Williams’ mental state at the time of his death: “I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from the mental health community in using that word,” Turner said Monday afternoon. “A lot of times when we’re doing live coverage we say things, and we’re talking, and we don’t realize what we’re saying. They’re absolutely correct — that it is a disease, so I apologize for using the word ‘demons’.”
TV News on-air talent weren’t the only journalists to contract foot-in-mouth disease yesterday, as word of Williams’ death broke. Politico’s Glenn Thrush, for instance, got pounded on Twitter for this Tweet:
…which he then tried to fix, with this, and this: