CNN apologized Thursday for airing footage of Bill Cosby’s dead son lying in a pool of blood.
The footage, taken from a helicopter by KTLA-TV, showed a Mercedes, its emergency lights still blinking, by the side of a Los Angeles freeway. The camera then moved in for a close-up of the body of 27-year-old Ennis William Cosby, who died of a single gunshot wound.
After the footage was aired at 2:02 p.m., there was an “immediate negative reaction” from CNN staff in the Atlanta newsroom and hundreds of calls of protests from the public, CNN spokesman Steve Haworth said.
When CNN anchorwoman Bobbie Battista came on the air after a commercial break at 2:28 p.m., she said: “There was some tape that aired that showed a close-up of Ennis Cosby, and it was inappropriate to air that. We apologize for that and to his family as well.”
Mike Klein, CNN’s supervising producer, ordered the apology, Haworth said.
CNN had received the tape several hours earlier - before it had been confirmed that the dead motorist was Cosby’s son. An editor putting the footage together for viewing improperly included the close-up, Haworth said.
CNN has no precise rules on airing such footage, considering it a judgment call depending upon the circumstances.
“We are not in the business of showing gratuitously violent material on air,” Haworth said. “We will show only the material that is necessary to explain the story to the viewers.”
KTLA did not air the footage because it has a long-standing policy against showing graphic scenes, said Fernando Lopez, manager of news operations.
But, Lopez said, the station is getting a lot of angry calls because CNN broadcast the tape as “courtesy of KTLA.”