Legal Eavesdropping

Back when I worked at 680 News I was adamantly against playing 911 tapes of distress calls on the air.  The only exceptions were those calls from September 11th, released long after the fact, when describing the scenes as they unfolded, first hand, seemed newsworthy.  But I thought a call from a frantic person describing the death of a loved one was exploitive and disgusting, and I still think that way.

A couple of those calls have been released to the media in the past week or so and links to them remain high up on so-called “entertainment” websites like ET.  One is the emergency call about the discovery of the body of heiress Casey Johnson whose story I only know from reading The New York Post’s Page Six.  She was an addict and a party girl who died at age 30 a week or so ago.  The other is the 8 minute tape of actress Brittany Murphy’s Mother, described as “hysterical”, in a desperate bid to revive her dead daughter who was just 32. 

What can the public possibly expect to get from listening to these phone calls?  I can’t think of anything more devastating to a Mother than to discover the lifeless body of her daughter.  It was likely the most raw and tragic moment of that woman’s life.  It has been released for no other reason than to entertain us.  The voyeurism of those who would listen to it is beyond appalling.  I can’t imagine who would get their kicks from hearing futile efforts to revive another human being but someone must be listening.

I also don’t understand how it’s legal to make these tapes public.  Releasing them as evidence in the case of a murder investigation makes sense.  Having them available to investigators, that’s logical too. No other reason is good enough.  Now people from Dublin to Dubai are listening to a Mother’s worst nightmare unfold and having the audacity to make judgments about it. It sickens me to my core.