A car chase in Phoenix, Ariz. today ended in a suspected carjacker committing suicide, and FOX News aired it live despite its five-second tape delay.
Mediaite reports that FOX had been tracking the chase since 3:00pm ET. The car had apparently been speeding at “110 mph on an Arizona freeway and then on a dirt road west of Tonopah,” according to the website. Then the suspected carjacker pulled over in the desert, got out of the car and seemed to wander erratically before stepping into a grassy area and shooting himself in the head.
FOX anchor Shepard Smith can be heard shouting “get off it, get off it, get off it” immediately before the station cut to commercial. When the show returned, he apologized to viewers. “We really messed up,”he said, “and we’re all very sorry.”
“That didn’t belong on TV. We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV. And I personally apologize to you that that happened.”
BuzzFeed and Mediaite clipped the graphic scene and immediately posted it on their websites and on Twitter, a decision that some quickly criticized:
Guess this settles debate on the @buzzfeed balance between winning viral clicks and applying editorial judgement—
Stuart Millar (@stuartmillar159) September 28, 2012
Oh, come on, BuzzFeed. How are you going to lament Fox airing the suicide and then put it on YouTube?—
Philip Bump (@pbump) September 28, 2012
TIME’s Jim Poniewozik has more on the airing, the apology and the debate here.