Fox News anchor Shepard Smith had to apologize on-air Friday afternoon after Fox aired a suicide live on national television. Smith explained there was an error in the network’s delay system, which should have given a five-second buffer between any inappropriate footage and the viewing public.
In those five seconds, producers should have been able to turn the feed off and prevent it from reaching viewers. Unfortunately, that delay failed just as a man involved in a high-speed police chase in Arizona shot himself in the head after exiting his vehicle. At the time the unidentified man shot himself, the camera was trained squarely on him and nothing was censored.
Fox Broadcasts Suicide on Live Television: Man Shoots Himself During Fox News Police Chase Coverage
Just after Fox aired the suicide, Shepard Smith could be heard shouting, “Get off it, get off it!” as the feed dropped out and the network cut to commercial. There was likely a mad scramble to have an apology statement prepared for Shepard Smith to read when he returned to air a moment later; it is also possible Smith simply knew what he needed to say given what had just happened.
(Find Smith’s full on-air apology after Fox broadcasts suicide linked at the bottom of this article.)
Regardless of whether it was scripted or not, an apology was made and it was made immediately. When the feed cut back to Shepard Smith, he addressed the public. “We really messed up,” said Smith. “We’re very sorry.”
Fox Broadcasts Suicide on Live TV: Oft-Parodied Anchor Shepard Smith Makes Heartfelt Apology
Before the tragic events just outside Phoenix unfolded on television screens around America, Fox had simply picked up video feed of a high-speed police chase and taken it to air as many news outlets seem to do with every police chase they come upon. In this case, police were following someone in what appeared to be a maroon PT Cruiser when the driver bailed off I-10 and onto a dusty road. Before exiting the highway, the suspect had driven at speeds in excess of 100 m.p.h. in his attempts to get away from law enforcement.
After stopping the car and jumping out, the suspect in the pursuit ran down the road, looking panicked and desperate. He appeared to have a gun in his hand from the moment he exited his vehicle. Within moments, the man ran into some brush, put the gun to his head and fired.
Almost immediately, Twitter users who had been watching the coverage began to ask fellow Twitter users if they had really just watched Fox News broadcast a suicide on national television. Sadly, the responses from those watching confirmed the horror of what had just happened.
Full apologies from Fox News anchor Shepard Smith and Fox News Executive VP Michael Clemente after Fox broadcast suicide here.