Last night, Anderson Cooper announced on his 360 blog that Monday night's show was going to focus on a story that hadn't received the attention it deserved. He was talking about the murder of Lawrence King, a 15 year-old who was shot in the head by a 14 year-old classmate two weeks ago in California. Shortly before his death, King had come out of the closet and had begun to modify his dress to reflect his sexuality. As a result, he was subjected to homophobic slurs all through his final days.
Cooper is appalled that parents and teachers hadn't taken this bullying seriously:
According to many accounts he had been bullied repeatedly, and some parents have even claimed students knew of threats to Lawrence's life... If this had been an African-American student bullied by a teenage skinhead would it have received more attention?
Would school officials have taken it more seriously if it had been a Christian campus leader attacked by another student because of his/her religious beliefs? I don't have the answers to those questions, but I do think they are worth asking.
Cooper says that his show is going to be looking into the facts surrounding King's murder, and bring on board Dr. Charles Sophy, the medical director of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services. Wonderful! That sounds interesting. I immediately rushed to CNN's site and downloaded a podcast of last night's show. The clip included routine coverage of the impending elections, a section on Ralph Nader, North Korea, and a 4 year-old who sings the Beatles. But Lawrence King and the tragic, confusing circumstances surrounding his death were conspicuously absent.
Now, I realize that when one cuts an hour-long show down to 24 minutes and 27 seconds, some sacrifices must be made. As a former trainee correspondent at CNN's Indian Broadcasting Network (CNN IBN) in New Delhi, I am well aware of the effort that goes into making sure that every show is a balance of serious and feel-good stories. But honestly, excluding this murder from your podcast while giving ample room to a kid singing in his underwear (not to mention the never ending banter between Cooper and Erica Hill)? This, after having just blogged about how the story has been ignored by the press? That's a terrible lapse of judgment.
Here is the 10 minute clip on King that was cut from the official podcast: