The words are so shocking, you could hardly believe they come from a journalist's mouth. On Sunday's broadcast of CNN Newsroom, reporter Susan Candiotti used a racial slur on live television. She was only quoting a post from a Facebook page, but the fact that Candiotti wasn't reprimanded for saying f*cking n*gger on live TV is utterly reprehensible. Watch the video at the bottom of the page.
In the CNN interview, Candiotti reads what 19-year-old Jacob England, one of the suspects in Friday's shooting in Tulsa, Okla., wrote on his Facebook page.
There was a Facebook posting made just the other day, written by the suspect in this case, that police are examining, Candiotti said. And it reads like this: 'Today is two years that my dad has been gone, shot by' - and please excuse the language, it's very sensitive - 'Shot by a f*cking n*gger. It's hard not to go off between that and [England's fiancée] Sheran.'
CNN didn't bleep or censor Candiotti's words at all, but the accompanying graphic showed a blurred out Facebook post from England.
In all fairness to Candiotti and CNN, both parties apologized shortly after the words were said.
We apologize to our viewers for such profanity being used on our air, said CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield after Candiotti's report.
In quoting someone else's words, I repeated their offensive and inappropriate language, Candiotti told Mediabistro.com. I deeply regret it.
Despite Candiotti's sincere apologies, especially at the time of the broadcast, she shouldn't have said those words in the first place, even if it was quoting another source.
The story to begin with is racially charged, and Candiotti, who has been covering this story in Tulsa since it began, should have known better.
For those who don't know, England and another suspect, 32-year-old friend and roommate Alvin Watts, were accused of going on a killing spree in Tulsa on Friday morning, shooting pedestrians in a white pickup truck. Officials said that England and Henderson invited victims over to their truck to ask for directions, and opened fire. Three people, including two men and one woman, were killed, and two others were wounded. All five victims were black.
On Thursday afternoon, England had posted an emotional message to his Facebook page, which marked the second anniversary of his father's death. England's father Carl was shot on April 5, 2010, and his alleged killer was black, even though he was never charged in the murder.
RIP. Dad and sheran I Love and miss u I think about both of u every second of the day, England said after posting the bit that Candiotti had quoted.
You can look at the facts of the case and certainly come up with what would appear to be a logical theory, but we're going to let the evidence take us where we want to go, said Tulsa police chief Chuck Jordan.
The case is an extremely sensitive matter, considering its racial themes, so journalists needed to take care when describing the events. Candiotti should have understood the situation and taken it upon herself to censor herself.
England and Watts are both currently in police custody. On Monday, a judge set bail at $9.1 million for each man.
Candiotti doesn't need to be fired because the words weren't hers; yet, CNN should take a hard look at its guidelines for reporters and find a way to maintain accuracy while protecting the sensibilities of its viewers. News should be able to be watched by young and old alike: The content may be disturbing, but audiences need to be able to trust those who deliver the news. In this world where any clip can go viral, Candiotti's utterance wasn't a one-time deal: The video will be replayed and shared hundreds of thousands of times. That's unfortunately the viral world we live in. Yet, CNN should have the wherewithal to respond quickly to these controversial moments, and even fire a reporter if it needs to. No one reporter is bigger than the brand, and CNN ought to know that.
Warning: Video below contains graphic language. Candiotti's quote begins at 1:38.