The Responsibilities Of Media And Reality TV
A little over two years ago, a woman named Jessie McCaskill was killed by her partner in a murder-suicide here in Phoenix.
The TV network Investigation Discovery then featured the story on the program "Deadly Affairs."
McCaskill's sister, Lee Moon-Griffo, recently wrote an essay for the site xoJane.com entitled "Reality TV Think's My Sister's Murder is Sexy." In it she contends that the network got many details of the story wrong. She also talks about the double trauma she and her family experienced — once when her sister was murdered, and again when the story aired.
We spoke to Moon-Griffo from her home in southern Maryland about what it was like to see her sister's story air on TV.
Our conversation with Moon-Griffo got us thinking about the responsibility of media and viewers when it comes to shows like this.
So we spoke to Mekeisha Madden-Toby, a TV critic based in Los Angeles who writes for publications such as Essence and The Wrap. We asked what draws people to TV shows like "Deadly Affairs."
KJZZ reached out to the Discovery network several times for comment, but did not hear back.
Excerpts from the personal essay "Reality TV Thinks My Sister's Murder Is Sexy" by Lee Moon-Griffo on xojane.com:
If you happen to see the "documentary" on my sister on the Discovery Channel's aptly nicknamed "murder porn" sister network, "Investigation Discovery," I'd like you to know the reality of my sister's execution by the one who was supposed to love her best — versus the glossy production values of TV and the whispered innuendo of love gone wrong.
My family has lived with the reality of my sister's murder for two years. The details are seared in our brains, and the facts of the case are not in dispute. It wasn't about a bar flirtation or a love triangle gone wrong. It was about substance abuse, domestic violence, and access to a gun — the recipe for most domestic murders in this country.
We couldn't control the media then, and we can't control the continued exploitation of our sister's life and death by people who make their living on the backs of others' pain now. All we can do is tell the truth, and the truth isn't even close to the segment being aired. That is so far from the truth only the names carry any resemblance to actual events. Yet viewers recognize those names and think they know something about my family.