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'60 Minutes' Footage Of Sarin Gas Attack Prompts Questions About Graphic Images

CBS News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley, who reported the story, said there was no question at the network of whether or not to air the video. (cbsnews.com)
CBS News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley, who reported the story, said there was no question at the network of whether or not to air the video. (cbsnews.com)

The CBS News show “60 Minutes” this week is defending its decision to air what it called “some of the most disturbing footage” in its 47-year history – video of people, including children, dying from a sarin gas attack in Syria in August 2013.

The video shows children and adults lying on the floor, unresponsive, some seizing or twitching, taking their last breaths. It’s wrenching. But Scott Pelley, who reported the story, said there was no question at the network of whether or not to air the video.

“We wanted the world to see what this was, in all its ugliness,” he said. “It killed more than 1,000 people. More than 400 children. You can read about that all day, but if you don’t see it, I don’t believe the impact truly hits you.”

Here & Now’s Robin Young talks to NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik about how news organizations decide when violent, disturbing images are important and useful to show, and when something crosses the line into unnecessary or exploitative.

  • Watch the “60 Minutes” report, “A Crime Against Humanity”
  • Behind the “60 Minutes” decision to show disturbing video
  • See more media analysis from David Folkenflik
  • Guest

  • David Folkenflik, media correspondent for NPR. He tweets @davidfolkenflik.
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.