(NewsNation) — On Tuesday, Texas newspaper the Austin American Statesman published surveillance footage taken from inside Robb Elementary School during a massacre that killed 21 people, including 19 children, setting off a controversy around the video’s release.
Families of the victims killed were scheduled to see the footage for the first time Sunday, and were surprised when it was released in the media four days before they thought they’d see it.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin called the release of the video by the media “one of the most chicken things” he’s ever seen. The reporter who published it, Tony Plohetski, says he did so for the families and for the sake of transparency.
NewsNation’s Dan Abrams debated with a journalism professor from the University of California-Berkeley and an attorney over whether the Austin American Statesman did the right thing by publishing the video.
Abrams called the reporter’s explanation for publishing the video “sanctimonious.”
“I agree his job as a journalist is to expose the truth, and it is newsworthy, but his explanation is total B.S.,” Abrams said Wednesday on “Dan Abrams Live.”
May Mailman, a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Law Center, agreed with Abrams, saying the newspaper’s decision to was not in the best interest of the families, arguing the video provided the public and families with no new information.
“They say this is about transparency, but what really was learned?” Mailman said. “We already knew that there was this long delay, we already knew that they didn’t go in when they could, we already knew they were sort of sitting on their hands. The question the families want to know is ‘why.?'”
Edward Wasserman, the California journalism professor, agreed with nearly everything Abrams and Mailman argued, but said the families probably would have objected to the release of the video under any circumstances.
“It’s not in any way benefiting the parents (that) the rest of the world see this video; it cannot fail but deepen the loss and deepen the heartache that they’re already experiencing,” Wasserman said. “Sooner or later, whether it was released prematurely, which in this case it sounds to me that it was, you’re still going to be confronting the reality that this kind of exposure is going to hurt them.”
The full discussion can be viewed in the video above.