Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Car Chase Mania

At least five in two weeks. Media guidelines thrown in the trash. News broadcasts ditched to give more wall-to-wall coverage. Yes, I'm talking about copycat car chases.

"At least five police pursuits of a fleeing suspect have taken place in the Los Angeles area over the past two weeks - and stations are once again finding the allure of speeding cars and flashing lights irresistible," notes Variety in their February 10th issue.

Los Angeles, California has more than its fair share of car chases, which many stations have been attempting to show less of during 2008. But then few of the chases involve a Bentley, and more are being covered since the start of 2009, again. For three hours on Monday night, February 9th, the driver of the $100,000-plus Bentley with Illinois plates kept some viewers TiVo working overtime as the chase made its way through the valley.

The Los Angeles Times reports, "Police suspected the man was armed and had been 'very, very careful' not to confront him during the pursuit that traversed Los Angeles County along the Hollywood Freeway and Interstates 5, 10 and 405, said Officer Karen Smith of the media relations office."

But it all started badly, and ended in a suicide.

According to the USA Today, "The shooting occurred about an hour and a half after the suspect had finally stopped the car near the scene of an earlier alleged assault with a deadly weapon against his girlfriend."

Variety captured the earlier media hysteria:

With visions of O.J. Simpson dancing in their eyes, the stations almost giddily hinted that the driver was a 'significant figure' who had recently battered his galpal. R&B artist Chris Brown had just been accused the night before of allegedly beating his girlfriend, the singer Rihanna....

As the erroneous word spread that Brown was behind the wheel, a media circus converged in North Hollywood, where the Bentley driver finally stopped his vehicle and embarked on a standoff with police. The parallel to Simpson's 1994 White Bronco chase were eerily similar: A slow-moving car. Throngs of bystanders gathering to watch. And in a 2009 twist, an even bigger throng of paparazzi and website videographers, capturing it all on the ground.

There was just one problem: That wasn't Chris Brown in the car. Not even close. Even as word finally began to spread that it wasn't Brown (believed to be first noted by KNBC, at least according to blogs also monitoring the coverage), some stations appeared to still hold out hope that there was still a celeb behind the wheel.

When the stations finally managed to broadcast a shot of the suspect - and it was apparent that Brown wasn't pulling an O.J. - at least one station, KCBS/KCAL, announced that callers had identified the driver as Miami-based DJ/radio personality DJ Khaled.

The man was later identified as a businessman, the owner of a luxury car company, of Pakistani origins. The Los Angeles Times noted the driver who shot himself was a man named Mustafa Mustafa.

The above specific incident was the initial reason for why I was invited to appear live, by phone, on Wednesday, February 11, 2009, to discuss The Copycat Effect. This occurred shortly after 8 PM PT (11 PM ET) on the "Kennedy and Suits" show, KFI AM 640, Los Angeles. It was directly related to the string of car chases in LA, the murder-suicide copycat wave there, the Santa Claus killer, and we even talked of school shootings too. Earlier in the day, I was interviewed for a forthcoming article in Obit Mag, regarding the economical murder-suicides that are getting more and more attention from the media.

Kennedy, on the left, is well-known for her VJ days at MTV and as the former host of "Friend or Foe?" Suits is Bryan Suits. All highways lead to Los Angeles and Hollywood?

1 comment:

cryptidsrus said...

This is one of the main reasons I no longer watch the news, Loren. I still watch TV, but I limit it to non-news channels. FOX NEWS and MSNBC are are particularly, egregiously guilty of this. They practically salivate.