Theatrics make story into 'As The News Turns'


Cue up the juicy intro, Nina!

"A Las Vegas family RIPPED APART on a road trip to Los Angeles! The husband now behind bars, accused of beating his wife unconscious and kidnapping their baby! ... Tonight family members are speaking out! ... Drew Karedes joins us now with this UNBELIEVABLE story!"

Tell us -- in an urgent, tabloid-y, "Inside Edition" narration of tense, hushed tones and breathless exclamations!

"Police at this California gas station grab hold of the 9-month-old baby boy from Las Vegas who for nearly A WEEK had been held hostage by his dad, a man authorities say THREATENED VIOLENCE against the baby and proved DANGEROUS against the mother!"

Breathe, Drew, breathe!

Now run film of the suspect's cousin saying: "He was stressed out, told me he was hearing voices." (Hey, didn't Nina suggest we'd hear from "family members" -- plural -- though only one is quoted on camera? Shouldn't he at least be "speaking out!" -- as in outraged, opinionated, defiant -- not chatting casually as you would over morning coffee?) ...

"(His) anger intensified on a road trip DESTINED FOR LOS ANGELES!" (Hey, is that the suspect's actual hand gripping the steering wheel inside that car? No? Is it a borrowed clip from a Hyundai commercial?) ...

"Authorities say ALONG THE WAY (an) argument heated up and Jermaine Suarez ordered his wife to GET OUT IN THE PITCH BLACK OF NIGHT!" (Hey, is that the family's actual car ominously slowing to a stop off a darkened highway? No? Is it a Wes Craven outtake?) ...

"After leaving his wife on the side of the freeway, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department tells us Suarez eventually turned around, CAME BACK and went on the attack!" (Hey, is that a close-up of the suspect's actual shoe walking menacingly toward us just as he pounces? No? Is it a setup clip from "Saw IV"?) ...

"BEATEN UNCONSCIOUS and left in a bush, the wife regained her senses and REALIZED her husband and their baby were gone!" (Hey, is that the actual, honest-to-goodness bush? No? Well, we know it's not the Burning Bush from "The Ten Commandments." ... It isn't, is it?) ...

"An Amber Alert soon LIT UP nearby highways!" (Hey, is that ... yes! Jackpot! Actual footage!)

Epilogue: Baby's safe? Mom recovered? Good news. Nothing is remotely humorous about their ordeal. Question, though: Might this have been reported without third-rate Hitchcock gimmickry? Or is more happening than merely dressing news as melodrama for a story's sake?

Consider an observation by late, lauded media analyst Paul Klite in his essay, "TV News and the Culture of Violence":

"Violence attracts people's attention and produces a strong emotional reaction that advertisers covet. Marketers call it 'arousal.' Paraphrasing (Marshall) McLuhan, arousal helps move merchandise. Violence (and) talk of violence are the most effective tools for manipulating people. Propagandists from Machiavelli to Mao have known this."

Don't forget our own arrrousing Channel 13, ACTION NEWS, which will return after these ... commercial messages.

(Hey, is that a wallet coming out of your pocket or are you just glad to see them?)

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ or 702-383-0256.