Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Most Important Question

Brian Williams, Chris Jansing and the Nightly News producers were negligent in their coverage of the Georgian luger who died on Friday. They failed to ask the most important question. It has been widely reported that the Canadian Olympic Committee and the governing bodies for the various Canadian Olympic sports have been severely limiting the amount of practice time for non-Canadian athletes at the Olympic sports facilities in order to provide an advantage to Canadian athletes (familiarity with the facilities is a definite advantage). Someone at Nightly News should have asked whether Nodar Kumaritashvili's crash could have been a result of his unfamiliarity with the luge track due to his inability to get enough track time. If a luger is given fewer practice runs than he wants, it's certainly possible that he might try to ride too fast too soon, instead of having the luxury of gradually working his way up to top speed. If this is the case, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Luge Association may be partly responsible for Kumaritashvili's death. But no one at Nightly News raised this possibility. That's not surprising. They don't want to anger their host. Suggesting that the Canadian Olympic Committee may bear some of the responsibility for the accident would certainly be provocative, and ultimately that could cause the COC to look unfavorably on NBC--perhaps even restricting NBC's access to portions of the Games or certain Olympic-related events. And NBC would never do anything that might jeopardize their access, since that could affect their ratings and ultimately their ad revenue. So Brian Williams, Chris Jansing and the Nightly News producers will talk about the fast track, the unpadded steel beams and the inherent danger involved in luge. But they will not risk asking the most important question. And that's a shame.

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