MORNING TV AIRS SCENES OF GRAPHIC COMBAT.Byline: Janet Weeks and Keith Marder Daily News Staff Writers
Television viewers expecting to tune into talk shows and soap operas Friday morning instead became unsuspecting witnesses to a brutal North Hollywood shootout The North Hollywood shootout was an armed confrontation between two heavily-armed and armored bank robbers, Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu, and patrol and SWAT officers of the Los Angeles Police Department in North Hollywood, California on February 28, 1997. captured live by news helicopters.
As cameras rolled, people across Southern California watched police shoot and kill two robbery suspects during a hail of gunfire in the wake of a botched botch
tr.v. botched, botch·ing, botch·es
1. To ruin through clumsiness.
2. To make or perform clumsily; bungle.
3. To repair or mend clumsily.
1. bank heist. Like live coverage of the Gulf War or the Los Angeles Riots, the tense and graphic images captivated cap·ti·vate
tr.v. cap·ti·vat·ed, cap·ti·vat·ing, cap·ti·vates
1. To attract and hold by charm, beauty, or excellence. See Synonyms at charm.
2. Archaic To capture. some, repulsed others and further blurred the boundaries between fictional violence and the real thing.
Eight local television stations interrupted regular programming to air the gunbattle with police and the ensuing search for the robbers, as did two cable news networks.
``It's scary stuff,'' marveled John Ellingwood, assistant service manager at North Hollywood Toyota, located about three miles from the crime scene. Mirroring the scene across Southern California, employees of the car dealership gathered around the television and together watched the tragic events unfold.
``I am the kind of guy that loves violence, like Jean-Claude Van Damme movies,'' Ellingwood said. ``But when the guy started unloading on the cop car, I turned around and walked away. I couldn't watch it. Everyone was kind of holding their mouths, going, `Oh, my God.' Nobody was talking.''
The decision to broadcast live from the crime scene - with its extraordinary footage of hooded, masked men armed with automatic weapons firing on police and bystanders - was based on public safety and the public's right to know, several news directors said.
``At about 9:30 a.m., we heard over police scanners about a fairly big police action so we sent our helicopter over,'' said Beth Maharrey, acting news director for KCAL-TV (Channel 9).
``When we saw what was going on, and that it was fairly dramatic, we thought `People need to see this,' '' she said.
The cameras continued to roll as the suspects pointed guns at police, civilians and even news helicopters. In one particularly gory moment, police first downed, then killed a suspect with a bullet to the head.
Maharrey said the station aired the man's death twice - once live and once on the noon news - but decided to pull the footage from following accounts of the story. Other stations replayed that scene through the evening.
``It was gratuitous to show it after a certain point,'' Maharrey said. ``If you see that video, it's pretty graphic. His head jerks back.''
Bill Lord, vice president and news director of NBC-TV (Channel 4), called the shootout Shootout
Venture capital jargon. Refers to two or more venture capital firms fighting for the startup. one of the biggest police stories to break in Los Angeles in the past 20 years.
``Any time somebody walks out on the street in full body armor with armor-piercing bullets and semiautomatic weapons, and cops and civilians get shot, you can say that this is not your normal bank robbery,'' Lord said.
Some questioned whether audiences distinguish between fact and fantasy at a time when television shows real car chases followed by reality-based police dramas on almost a daily basis.
``With all of the violence we have in our lives, people are so desensitized de·sen·si·tize
tr.v. de·sen·si·tized, de·sen·si·tiz·ing, de·sen·si·tiz·es
1. To render insensitive or less sensitive.
2. Immunology To make (an individual) nonreactive or insensitive to an antigen. that they blur reality and fiction,'' said Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist and former chairwoman of the 4,000-member Coalition on Television Violence.
``Children typically see (real violence) as a video game. If it weren't for newscasters making commentary this morning, children might well have thought they were watching a movie. The criminals themselves were probably acting out a fantasy from movies they've seen.''
Concerns about the sensationalistic sen·sa·tion·al·ism
a. The use of sensational matter or methods, especially in writing, journalism, or politics.
b. Sensational subject matter.
c. Interest in or the effect of such subject matter. nature of the shootout footage prompted Atlanta-based CNN CNN
or Cable News Network
Subsidiary company of Turner Broadcasting Systems. It was created by Ted Turner in 1980 to present 24-hour live news broadcasts, using satellites to transmit reports from news bureaus around the world. to monitor the story but not show it live, said spokesman Steve Haworth. In January, CNN was criticized for showing the bloody head of Bill Cosby's son, Ennis, who was slain while changing a tire in Los Angeles. CNN officials later apologized.
Haworth said the decision against showing the North Hollywood scene Friday was one based on the value of the news.
``We chose not to take that to air believing a bank robbery in progress is not a national story,'' Haworth said. ``We had a little bit of video, but we did not show people actually getting killed. We chose not to sensationalize sen·sa·tion·al·ize
tr.v. sen·sa·tion·al·ized, sen·sa·tion·al·iz·ing, sen·sa·tion·al·iz·es
To cast and present in a manner intended to arouse strong interest, especially through inclusion of exaggerated or lurid details: .''
During that time, CNN reported on President Clinton's tobacco abuse prevention program, charges of Pentagon overspending and the investigation into Democratic National Party fund raising.
Meanwhile, both MS-NBC and Fox News Channel stayed with the North Hollywood crime scene for several hours.
``Without any doubt, it was the best thing on television,'' said John Moody, vice president of news editorial for the Fox network. ``This is, without a doubt, a legitimate news story and I'm surprised CNN didn't take it.''
And while CBS (Cell Broadcast Service) See cell broadcast. led its 5:30 p.m. national news with the robbery, both ABC ABC
in full American Broadcasting Co.
Major U.S. television network. It began when the expanding national radio network NBC split into the separate Red and Blue networks in 1928. and NBC NBC
in full National Broadcasting Co.
Major U.S. commercial broadcasting company. It was formed in 1926 by RCA Corp., General Electric Co. (GE), and Westinghouse and was the first U.S. company to operate a broadcast network. led with Timothy McVeigh's reported confession to the Oklahoma City bombing See Terrorism "The Oklahoma City Bombing" (Sidebar); Venue "Venue and the Oklahoma City Bombing Case" (Sidebar). , which was contained in The Dallas Morning News.
Locally, however, the story topped all evening broadcasts.
``The safety of an entire community was put in jeopardy by the robbers,'' said Stephen Cohen, news director at UPN UPN User Principal Name (Microsoft Windows 2000)
UPN United Paramount Network
UPN Unión del Pueblo Navarro (Navarrese People Union)
UPN Umgekehrte Polnische Notation Channel 13. ``These were killers on the loose. That elevates the story to another level. You have to go back to the Symbionese Liberation Army Symbionese Liberation Army
small terrorist group that kid-napped Patty Hearst (1974–1975). [Am. Hist.: Facts (1974), 105]
See : Terrorism massacre to get this many officers injured in the line of duty In the Line of Duty may refer to:
PHOTO (1 -- color) TV helicopters broadcast live coverage of a suspect firing from the side of the bank building.
Courtesy of KTLA-TV
(2 --color) A gunbattle in which police ultimately shot and killed a suspect was shown on live television.
Courtesy of KTLA-TV