Schuringa only talked to news organizations for pay; and a counter-example

Alan G. writes:

Regarding your posts [here, here, and here] on how Jasper Schuringa’s heroics have been covered by the media. I thought this story and this one were interesting.

Apparently, he demanded payment in exchange for talking with the press. The first piece I link to puts the word “hero” in quotes, as the writer is apparently offended by Schuringa’s desire to profit from what occurred (according to the second link, he’s made $18,000 so far). Personally, however, I’m more offended by CNN and the New York Post not disclosing that they pay sources for interviews.

LA replies:

I thank Alan G. for this. Both articles that he links are worth reading.

To me, what Schuringa has done doesn’t feel right. In his instant, bold, and effective actions aboard the plane, he behaved in an exemplary manner. To demand money to tell the world about what happened, in a situation that involved the lives of hundreds of people and that affects the whole world, is not right. It tarnishes him.

Suppose you saw a person at risk of death, and you took action and saved that person’s life. Would you then demand money of a newspaper to tell them what happened?

Ironically, just a day ago, the New York Post (which as we’ve now learned paid Schuringa for his interview) did a story about a New York City woman, Sandi Castro, who did the right thing and refused money for it, even when it was strongly offered to her, though finally she relented and took a token amount, when the man she had helped wouldn’t take no for an answer.

You should not demand money just for doing what is right.

Here is the Post article

A finder’s feat
December 26, 2009

A last-minute shopper who lost a wallet stuffed with $5,000 in cash at Bloomingdale’s got a Christmas present he’ll never forget when an honest couple returned the billfold with every last dollar.

The happy return ended a miserable ordeal for Robert Slatkin, who was certain the wallet was gone for good in the frenetic sea of tourists and holiday shoppers Wednesday evening.

Slatkin was buying a shirt from the Armani section in the venerable department store at 4:30 p.m. when he noticed his wallet was missing.

“I just started shaking,” Slatkin, 46, who owns a fitness and nutrition company, told The Post. “I just said, ‘Oh no, it’s gone.’ “

He raced to the leather-handbags section, where he been perusing Tumi goods earlier, but came up empty-handed.

Another employee suggested he check the lost-and-found department. That was a bust, too.

So the sullen Slatkin left the store and slowly trudged up Lexington Avenue, where about 15 minutes later he got a call from American Express.

“I figured they were going to tell me that I had some unauthorized charges being made,” said Slatkin, who couldn’t believe the good news he wound up getting instead.

“The guy from AmEx laughed and said, ‘Someone is returning your wallet. A Sandi Castro found it,’ ” Slatkin said.

Castro, 40, and her fiancé, Bruce Migliaccio, 53, both of the Upper East Side, saw the bulging wallet on a Hugo Boss scarf display.

“I picked it up and saw all of the cash,” said Castro, who co-owns Big Fresh, an indie-movie company. “I felt panicked for him and felt like I needed to get it back to him as soon as possible.”

She and Bruce didn’t want to just hand it over to a clerk, so they asked a store manager to put the wallet in a safe. They then called American Express reps, who located Slatkin and put him in touch with the honest couple.

Robert Slatkin and Sandi Castro

Castro and Migliaccio handed over the wallet at the store, and Slatkin tried to give them a reward.

“I was shoving the money in Bruce’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it,” Slatkin said.

Castro explained: “It didn’t feel right to take the money. All I needed was a thanks.”

Finally, she relented and Slatkin gave the couple $300 and an open invitation for them to use the indoor pool in his posh Upper East Side apartment building—a perk they won’t be turning down.

“I was just raised to believe that what goes around, comes around,” Castro said. “I hope everybody would do the same.”

[end of Post article]

LA writes:

“I was just raised to believe that what goes around, comes around,” Castro said. “I hope everybody would do the same.”

Evidently Jaspar Schuringa, though he did such a great thing, did not have Sandi Castro’s faith in an underlying goodness and justice in life. Instead, his very first thought, after heroically battling and successfully disarming a mass murdering terrorist in the skies over Detroit, was on how to cash in.

- end of initial entry -

A. Zarkov writes:

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand I share most people’s negative reaction towards Schuringa’s avaricious behavior. It does tarnish his heroic image. But newspapers and TV news are for-profit businesses. They make money off interviewing him, so why should they not share it with him? Why should he provide the feedstock for their business for free? Everyone else in the news food chain gets paid; we don’t expect interviewer to denote his time in reporting about this news story—do we? Schuringa also makes videos for a living, and I suppose he thinks of his interviews as more of his work product.

LA replies:

You’re ambivalent about it. At present you believe two contradictory things. So, how are you going to resolve the contradiction?

I would say, think about the implied principle of the pro-Schuringa half of your position. Let’s say that you saw a couple being threatened by a hoodlum, you intervened, subdued the hoodlum, and saved the couple’s lives. You’ve just gotten home and the local paper calls you to an interview. Are you going to say to the paper, “Sorry, but this is a commercial world. I won’t tell the public, via your paper, about this life and death situation that took place in our city in which I played a role and saved people’s lives, unless you pay me $3,000”?

If your answer to that question is yes, why?

If it is no, why?

A. Zarkov replies:

It is a contradiction, but that’s ok, life is sometimes like that. As to your hypothetical, I would not ask for a fee for an interview, but that does not mean I’m prepared to condemn someone who does. Although I have to say that I would not give an interviews to many news organizations. I would reject requests from the New York Times, CNN, NBC, PBS and some others. I would be more inclined to give Breitbart an interview (for free) than most anyone else.

Paul K. writes:

The story mentions that the couple who found the wallet “didn’t want to just hand it over to a clerk.” That shows that they’re wise as well as honest.

I commuted into New York every day for years on Metro North. On several occasions I found purses and wallets left on seats by passengers who had gotten off the train without them. In each case I took personal responsibility to return them. I would never turn anything of value over to a clerk, conductor, or lost-and-found department, as the chances are good that that’s the last anyone would hear of it. I lost some things of my own on the train and none of them ever turned up at the lost-and-found department.

LA writes:

By the way, there are some cynical and amusing comments by readers following the Post article as to why Robert Slatkin was carrying $5,000 in cash, and also regarding his stated age of 46.

However, none of that diminishes the rightness—and, as Paul points out, the practical wisdom—of Sandi Castro’s conduct, which stands by itself.


That light we see is burning in my hall.
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

(The Merchant of Venice, Act V, Scene 1)

Nathan F. writes:

It’s not a matter of doing the right thing. Mr. Schuringa, and all of us, should always do the right thing. It’s a matter of providing your story, for free, to a for profit news organization. If the story is important enough, you should provide it to the media for free. If not, get as much as you can for your story. Love your site.

LA replies:

It’s not clear to me what your position is on this.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 27, 2009 11:11 PM | Send

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