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I know this is so last week, but I had a few readers who were curious what happened to my question about whether that Fox 6 cameraman was right to keep the camera rolling steadily while he watched his reporter, John Mattes, get walloped. After all, according to this Fox News clip shown nationally, Mattes supposedly found himself “in a fight for his life.”
Mattes said, in fact, that the guy was trying to gouge his eyes out.
If it was such a fight, why didn’t the cameraman try to help?
I wasn’t able to mount as much of a survey as I had hoped. Apparently, there were more important things to research last week. But I did get a lot of response on the topic. Some readers have wondered what happened to that little thread so I’ll tie it off.
First, I did call my friend Gene Cubbison, a reporter at NBC 7/39. He said he surveyed a couple of his photogs and they said that they would have filmed the initial punch landed on their reporter but then they would have set the camera down – hopefully in a strategic location to capture any remaining action – and then jumped in the fight.
Cubbison wanted to make clear that he wasn’t second-guessing the Fox 6 cameraman’s decision. The two cameramen he talked to said they would have helped out, but it’s hard to put yourself in the same situation, Cubbison said.
As for my question about whether you had to consider the safety of your very expensive camera in light of the fact that this attacker’s angry wife was liable to crush it or steal it, Cubbison said it wouldn’t have factored into the decision.
“It’s a piece of equipment. At the end of the day, you’re talking about a guy’s health,” Cubbison said.
A public relations pro who deals with the broadcast media quite often told me there was no question that the Fox 6 reporter should have kept the camera rolling.
Damn straight you let the camera keep rolling! Remember, once Mattes got clocked, the man he was originally planning to interview jumped in. I’m sure the cameraman, Dennis Waldrop decided he wouldn’t be of that much help, and the very best thing he could do was to get it all on the record. I also think Mattes would have called out to him for help if he thought it would have made a difference. And talk about solid evidence in the case against Suleiman and his wife! Nothing beats showing video to a jury.
OK, but even if you accept this argument, doesn’t that mean that Mattes wasn’t really fighting for his life and Fox 6 and the Fox News reporter completely exaggerated the danger he was in?
I know, broadcast news exaggerating, my god! The shock!
Mattes and Fox 6 may never get as much exposure for their efforts as they just did. The story was on every major news station, in newspapers, and the video was No. 1 on the Internet for a while there. We had a debate in the office about why. Was it the violence caught on tape? I mean, rarely do you see film of such a brutal first punch. Was it the fact that he was a broadcast news reporter and that touched a particular nerve of interest among, well, broadcast reporters?
I just realized that here I am talking about it and keeping the story alive. Ha! I just wanted to know about the cameraman’s decision to keep rolling. I think that explains everything. But I’m done with it.
I just want to watch the video one more time.