Jon E. Dougherty is a Missouri-based political science major, author, writer and columnist. Follow him on Twitter.
CBS is apologizing and the Secret Service has launched an investigation after a late-night television host aired a photograph of GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush accepting his party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention – with the words “SNIPERS WANTED” emblazoned across the bottom of the television screen.
Craig Kilborn, host of the network’s
The Late, Late Show, aired the video clip Friday night, one day after the close of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.
The video segment began by displaying briefly a photograph of Bush giving his acceptance speech, with the words “SNIPERS WANTED” appearing in white letters under the photo.
Still frame from the video parody depicting GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush and the words “SNIPERS WANTED” at the bottom of the TV screen.
The portrayal outraged some viewers, who in turn contacted CBS. Others contacted the
U.S. Secret Service to inquire about whether the parody constituted a threat.
Not only do such actions legally constitute a threat, but, according to a Secret Service agent who spoke with WorldNetDaily, the agency takes all such threats seriously — regardless of who makes them or whom they are directed against.
The clip may have been aired as a news parody, “but we don’t find such parodies very amusing,” said Special Agent Jim Mackin, a spokesman for the Secret Service. The agency has been assigned to protect Bush and his running mate, Richard B. Cheney, throughout the campaign.
Mackin said the Secret Service was made aware of the “SNIPERS WANTED” parody shortly after Kilborn aired it last Friday night, one day after the close of the Republican National Convention. Since then, he said, agents have been in contact with Kilborn and CBS after verifying the authenticity of the clip.
“I can’t go into any details, but I can tell you that we have investigated this matter and whether or not there was any harmful intent behind it,” Mackin told WorldNetDaily on Wednesday.
He also declined to comment on CBS’ reaction to the clip or whether action would be taken against the network generally or Kilborn specifically.
Others were clearly upset by the broadcast, however.
Craig Kilborn, host of CBS’ The Late, Late Show
“Kilborn has made a statement that, for all intents and purposes, should mean his arrest,” said one poster on the
Free Republic chat and news website. “He may have meant it in jest, but it’s not funny. He should make a public apology, he should apologize directly to [Bush] in person, and he should resign.”
“If it was a Republican saying this, there would be protests in the streets,” said another.
Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, seemed nonplussed about the CBS broadcast, telling WorldNetDaily, “Though no one here has actually seen it, it does appear that it was in poor taste.”
“As to the security issue, we don’t discuss Gov. Bush’s security and we’re prepared to let others judge the legalities of the incident,” he added.
The Gore campaign did not return calls for comment, nor did The Late, Late Show’s media representative, Michael Naidus.
However, CBS offices in New York released a statement to WorldNetDaily apologizing for the incident.
During the Aug. 4 broadcast, “an inappropriate and regrettable graphic was briefly presented on the screen during an ‘In the News’ item about George W. Bush’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.
“This graphic — which was not accompanied by any remarks from Mr. Kilborn — should not have been included in the telecast,” said CBS spokeswoman Rosemary Keenan in the statement. “CBS and Worldwide Pants, which produces the program, deeply regret this incident.”
Keenan said CBS was “concluding a review of this matter” and pledged to “take appropriate action when this process is complete.”
In an oddly related incident,
The Austin American-Statesman reported in its Aug. 2 edition that federal officials arrested a man for allegedly threatening Gov. Bush.
According to the report, Winfred Ener Jr., 44, who officials say is homeless, was shouting outside of the governor’s mansion in Texas on July 29. He was spotted by the Secret Service the following day and taken in for questioning. Authorities say among the contents of his bag were writings that stated “Die, pig” and “I’ll cut the FBI’s head off and stick it on the gate.”
Ener was charged with making threats to a presidential candidate and could face up to three years in prison if convicted.