Important update: The real author of the “Morgan Freeman” quote has spoken with us at length. In a follow-up interview, Mark from Vancouver explains his words. (And I apologize to him.) You can read that interview here, and leave comments if you appreciated his viewpoint.
Commentary | Morgan Freeman’s supposed statement on the “real reasons” behind yesterday’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has been getting a lot of posts and reposts on Facebook, but the very self-righteous, preachy and downright wrong in points missive is almost definitely a hoax and not the words of the actor. (Update: Screenshot below shows a possible source for the quote.)
The Morgan Freeman Newtown statement is, first and foremost, not traceable to any particular time, outlet or media source to whom the gravelly-voiced frequent narrator would have given the series of sanctimonious “thoughts” on the shooting. No interviewer claims credit for speaking to Morgan Freeman after the tragedy, and no single entry on the web for the lecture on the effects of media, publicity and journalism in general cites any reputable source in collecting the supposed remarks from the stately star.
But the missive penned almost definitely by someone other than Freeman who “borrowed” the actor’s voice to lend credibility to their own thoughts is striking a chord nonetheless — likely because it gives people not only a quick cause on which to blame the horrific events (that durn news industry!), but also a bit of assumed smugness in posting the comments back to friends on Facebook and Twitter after days of coverage.
The Morgan Freeman Connecticut shootings hoax begins:
“You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why … It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine?”
The purported Morgan Freeman statement continues:
“Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody … CNN’s article says that if the body count ‘holds up,’ this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another.”
Firstly, let’s pretend that CNN definitely used the term “holds up” in comparing the Newtown massacre to the Virginia Tech casualty toll. It’s not inherently morbid to examine a tragedy’s scope in relation to other tragedies and it doesn’t magically becoming “ranking” the two to compare the number of victims killed.
No one is saying one shooting is “worse than another,” but the sheer number of gun massacres in the US prompts many Americans to wonder about the relative impact. This is human nature, as old as the first printing presses, and not in and of itself exploitative.
Fake Morgan Freeman continues:
“Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell.”
Which is utterly, provably false and anyone who has wept and watched the coverage of the Newtown tragedy saw this first hand.