Left to their own, the news media will continue to show images just like this one with no thought of the damage they are causing. Sheriff Justin Smith knows better. We need to take his plan to the nation.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is my hero. He’s really showing those nasty news people who’s in charge. This is the guy we need on the national scene to finally get the out of control news media under the control of the government where it belongs.
After the arrogant TV news directors of Denver turned down Sheriff Smith’s request (see our earlier column) and kept showing burning and burned out homes, the man who was elected to be in charge got even (can you believe those insensitive, so called journalists actually showed things burning on the news?). According to an article by AP reporter Dan Elliott posted on Firefighter Nation, the sheriff has now issued brand new restrictions on the press covering wildfires in Northern Colorado. I know what you are saying and I’m with you. Can we even really trust a reporter to tell us what the sheriff is doing?
But if reporter Elliott is accurate (doubtful, considering how those people are), as part of Sheriff Smith’s continuing concern that a homeowner may have his or her privacy violated by seeing their destroyed home in the news before being officially notified, the sheriff is refusing to allow reporters and camera crews into areas they’ve typically had access to at previous wildfires in the region.
America needs Sheriff Smith. Here’s a guy who would make sure that all images of property destroyed by terrorist attack or other intentional act, accident or natural disaster have been properly cleared before being shown to the public. We’ve needed someone like Justin Smith for a long, long time.
With Justin Smith at the helm we would be spared live TV coverage of terrorist attacks or other unfolding disasters.
If he was in charge almost eleven years ago we wouldn’t have had to see any of the images from the attacks of 9-11 live on our TV screens. Sheriff Smith would have made sure access to the area by the reporters and photographers was restricted, and no images were seen until all property owners were officially notified by law enforcement.
When the next earthquake hits Southern California, Smith is the guy who can make certain no crumbling structures are viewed until after all home and building owners have been contacted.
When a jet goes off course and takes down an apartment complex, as it did in Virginia Beach, Virginia earlier this year, Sheriff Smith will see to it that every apartment dweller has heard the news from one of his deputies before even one image hits the airwaves.
The next time a single family home of lightweight construction catches fire and spreads to three or four neighboring homes and melts the siding off four or five others, Sheriff Smith will have the backs of the public. There will be no live TV chopper pictures of the destruction until each homeowner gets the word.
Everyone who lived in these apartments would have been notified first hand before the first image hit the screen if Justin Smith had his way. That’s why need him as our nation’s editor-in-chief.
This arrogance by the press, especially TV news, has gone on far too long. At the Museum of Radio and Television in New York, you can see for yourself, as I have, that as far back as a 1961 wildfire in Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles County, that KTLA-TV was showing live helicopter video from its chopper of homes burning. I can assure you no one notified those homeowners before the images were televised. And that’s probably because Justin Smith wasn’t born yet to protect us from this outrageous violation of our privacy and our freedoms.
I know if I were one of those resident in the path of a wildfire I wouldn’t want to know instantly my house burned down via some heartless TV news person doing a live report. No matter how many hours or days it took, it would be much better to be in the dark without such information, until, as the country’s Founding Fathers had intended, the home’s next of kin were properly notified by an elected official.
That’s all changed now. There’s a new sheriff in town. I urge both men who want to occupy The White House come January 21, 2013 to please consider naming Justin Smith as the nation’s first editor-in-chief. It’s time for the President to make sure the news people understand that a free press really means that the people who were elected by the citizens are free to make the rules. A man like Sheriff Smith, whose department also warned of unauthorized Facebook pages about the Colorado fires, could also be the guy to get this whole social media thing under control, with all of these citizens with cameras posting anything they want, whenever they want.
Better yet, this new national post should be a cabinet position with a name that everyone can clearly understand. How about Minister … I mean, Secretary of Information? It has a nice ring to it.