May 28, 2009

So You Want to Kill the President...

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was watching the Today Show, as I do every morning. Today was a relatively slow news day because the story that received the most coverage during the 7:00-7:22 segment involved the false report filed by a woman who really took her daughter to Disney World. Every element of the story was repeated twice, both in the setup piece and then again when Natalie Morales was interviewing a police officer involved with the case. There were many elements in that reporting piece that were annoying to have to listen to (mainly Natalie Morales' misunderstanding of what racial profiling is), but I digress.

The far more shocking story to me was the one involving Sara Jane Moore who tried to kill President Gerald Ford in 1975 but failed because an onlooker twisted her arm causing the bullet to miss. The entire story was presented as a big reveal with it being teased throughout the morning with an old woman whose identity was shielded because they didn't have lights on her. When it came time for her interview, they undimmed the light in the studio so we could see her face.

Matt Lauer's biggest shock was that she looked like somebody who could be our aunt or (dare he say) grandmother. Sara Jane felt that she needed to do the interview so that people didn't think she was a monster, but just a human being.

It was all rather odd to me. Matt Lauer was honored to meet her. She had been in jail since her attempt and was on parole. I simply cannot understand how somebody who tried to kill a president is sought to be understood under the lights of a morning news show studio. If somebody tried to kill President Obama, would we eagerly look forward to an interview many years in the future so that they can present themselves not as a monster, but as a human? So we can seek to understand them? Please.

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