It used to be that KKTV Channel 11 Anchor Eric Singer was content to earnestly report on such things as cures for snoring. But that was BT7 -- Before the Texas Seven. Now that the Colorado Springs TV fixture wrassled those bad boys out of their hotel room, Singer just wants to save lives.
That's according to the trade magazine American Journalism Review where Singer, featured in the March issue of the magazine, talked about his moment of greatness with editorial assistant Ananda Shorey in a Q-and- A-style format.
You'll remember that Singer was called in on Jan. 24 after the remaining two members of the Texas Seven were holed up in a Colorado Springs hotel room and told police that they would surrender peacefully if they could first get some television airtime on their local TV station of choice, KKTV. So the police negotiators brought in Singer, prepped him on how to talk to the fugitives, reviewed his questions and then had him call the escapees on their hotel room telephone.
After five minutes of rambling about the injustice of the Texas prison system, the prisoners came out, were re-arrested and were hauled away.
In the magazine interview, Singer brushed off any suggestion that he might have played too much of a role in the news event. He claimed he simply followed the recommendations of the Radio-Television News Directors Association to a T. "It was ethically valid because we were saving a life," Singer claimed. "There was a higher concern and the higher concern was to try to save a life."
Singer never did specify exactly whose life he saved. But he went on to tell AJR that TV viewers overwhelmingly agreed with the station's decision to get involved in the news story.
"Everyone has to follow their own path. We chose to follow the course that we set out to follow, which in this instance was to try and save lives," Singer told AJR. "Overwhelmingly, our community has agreed with us, too. I am amazed that all of this happened and luckily these men came out. I look back and there is a big blur."
A big blur? OK, so in retrospect is there anything that Singer would have done differently?
"As a journalist I would have liked to ask: 'What happened when you first broke out of prison?' But ... [in this situation it was too dangerous] to set them off for a 15-second soundbite."
Perhaps Singer can now set his sights on an interview with Ted Kaczynski, who is currently living at the Supermax federal prison just down the road in Cañon City. Of course he wouldn't be the first one to try.
The same issue of AJR that features the Singer interview details the sometimes hilarious, sometimes shameless ways that TV and newspaper reporters from around the country have pleaded with the Unabomber to give them an exclusive.
Kaczynski might have murdered three people, injured 22 and toyed with explosives for 17 years while living in a tiny one-room cabin in Montana, but hey, when you're a reporter begging for the Big One you gotta be creative -- and think positive. Kaczynski may not have granted the interviews, but he did donate the requests to the University of Michigan's Special Collections Library. Here's a snippet from a few:
"Several doctors and some of your lawyers have claimed you suffer from schizophrenia. I want to give you the opportunity to respond point-by-point to their allegations and to show the American people that you are, in fact, rational, clear-headed and sane." -- From Shawn Efran of 60 Minutes II
Or how 'bout this one from Don Dahler, a national correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America: "I believe I'm uniquely equipped for such a task because of my varied background and education. I was born not far from where you now live [in prison], and have a cabin in the woods west of Colorado Springs that has no electricity or running water. I've been a journalist most of my life, but also a wildlife filmmaker and writer."
More interview requests are online at www.TheSmokingGun.com. One of our favorites comes from the Denver Post's Kit Miniclier, who fondly recalled the time he spent canoeing in the wilderness and the time he spent in his uncle's one-room log cabin on East Bearskin Lake in Minnesota.
In his request, Miniclier told Kaczynski that he would love to sit down for a chat -- just as soon as the reporter finished a news package he was working on about four atomic bombs that were exploded in western Colorado a generation ago.