As the world was shaking off that first sting from hearing that Robin Williams had taken his own life, Shepard Smith of Fox News reported the news of Williams’ death on Monday referring to Williams as a “coward” for killing himself. Smith issued his apology on Tuesday via Mediaite for using the word coward, but the damage was done as those who heard him were appalled and apology or not, his callous and cold use of the word still doesn't sit well with many Fox News viewers.
The New York Daily News on Aug. 12 reports that it was only hours after Robin Williams was found dead that Smith came on the air using the word 'coward' when describing what Williams had done. He seemingly reprimanded the deceased Williams by saying, “Something inside you is so horrible or you’re such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.” Jaws dropped around the nation for the Fox viewers who were tuned in.
Two weeks ago Williams had shared an endearing picture of him holding his baby daughter over 20 years ago. He posted the picture online on his daughter’s 25th birthday. Smith referred to this picture of Williams and his daughter Zelda and seemingly condemned Williams’ choice to end his life saying, “One of the children he so loved, one of the children grieving tonight because their father killed himself in a fit of depression.”
In a “fit” of depression! The illness is far from a “fit,” it is a state of mind so filled with dread and pain that it actually puts someone in the position that the fear of death is nothing in comparison to finding a place to rid that pain. That place is death for people who commit suicide.
The saying “death is a permanent solution for a temporary problem” is repeated often in the rooms of mental health facilities. It is often a catch phrase recited by a mentally healthy individual to someone who is depressed and suicidal.
A person who commits suicide because they are extremely depressed sees death as the only option because at the time they can’t comprehend “temporary” in the throngs of such great despair.
Anyone who has taken their own life while in a state of mind that has left them stricken with despair doesn’t do this to his family and he doesn’t do this to his friends, he does this to end the pain, a pain like no other. It appears that by Smith's choice of words, he doesn't understand at all what drives a person to a point of committing suicide. Shepard Smith offered an apology in which he sounded desperate to take back his words:
"I would never presume to know anything about his private life. And if any of his family members and friends were to have seen me use the word ‘coward,’ I would be horrified.”
“I would just like to apologize to the end of the earth to anyone who might think that I meant to openly call him a ‘coward,’” he said.
“To the core of my being, I regret it. It just came out of my mouth. And I’m so sorry. And to anyone and their families who see that, I am sorry.”
On Monday Smith’s words lit up Twitter with people finding his reporting on Williams' death cold, callous almost flippant. He somehow acted as if he had the right to take the liberty to judge the suicide of a man who was more than likely in overwhelming pain. As MSN News reports today, Smith even “implied that Williams was a poor father.” Here is what he had to say:
"It's hard to imagine, isn't it? You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they're in their mid-20s, and they're inspiring you, and exciting you, and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known," Smith said. "And yet, something inside you is so horrible or you're such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today."
Robin Williams was found dead at home on Tuesday. He was found hanging by a belt in his bedroom. His rep reports that he had been suffering from severe depression recently. The news of Williams' suicide shocked the nation and the media was saturated with reports on his suicide, including Fox News. Smith's choice of words caused outrage and while he did apologize today, it is hard to understand what made him report Williams' death in the way that he did.