Early this morning the state of Missouri sent convicted serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin to meet his Maker, executing the white supremacist who targeted Jews and blacks in a killing spree in the 1970s.
The Big Three networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- all featured stories on the execution on their websites this morning, but curiously NBC's teaser headline at NBCNews.com was worded thusly: "Shooter of Larry Flynt executed after Supreme Court denies stay." Clicking that teaser headline brought readers to a story by Alastair Jamieson headlined, "White supremacist who killed blacks and Jews is put to death in Missouri."
CBSNews.com also noted the Larry Flynt angle in a front-page tease, but it was less prominent. "White supremacist serial killer executed in Mo.," read the headline, while the caption below it added, "Joseph Paul Franklin put to death for synagogue sniper shooting, claimed responsibility for 20 killings, shooting Hustler's Larry Flynt."
ABCNews.com left out the Flynt angle entirely on its front-page tease. "Missouri Executes Serial Killer Who Targeted Jews, Blacks," read the headline. "Missouri Executes Serial Killer Who Targeted Jews, Blacks," explained the caption.
NBC's headline choice is NOT a question of bias. It's probably some dopey attempt at search engine optimization, but still, it's an odd choice, especially since the white supremacist/serial killer angle is juicier and, well, actually related to the charge for which Franklin was condemned to die:
He arrived in the St. Louis area in October 1977 and picked out the Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue from the Yellow Pages. He fired five shots at the parking lot in Richmond Heights after a bar mitzvah on Oct. 8, 1977. One struck and killed Gerald Gordon, a 42-year-old father of three.