Anyone with half a mind to hate journalists could do worse than watch this video,
shot by TMZ, of Natasha Richardson’s nearest and dearest arriving at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital in the final hours of her life.
Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson arrive, only to be bombarded with an extraordinary barrage of questions both insensitive and inane. “You guys, how you doin’? How you doin’?” someone shouts. “How are you guys feeling about this?”
As they exit the building, some time later, the barrage continues: “Ms. Redgrave, how is Natasha doing? How’s she doin’? Is she holding up?” It’s hard to fathom the excruciating pain of watching a loved one die without warning, while at the same time having to put up with this sort of heinous crap.
The media crap has, in fact been abundant from the moment that news of Richardson’s sudden illness first hit the headlines — and it hasn’t been confined to the paparazzi end of the spectrum. Was she brain-dead, they asked. Or merely critical? In the absence of solid information, the public rumor-mongering went into overdrive.
And it has only gotten worse now she has been declared dead: the fake expressions of concern on the part of a media gaggle itching to report the latest half-digested tidbit have given way to a bizarre game of who’s-to-blame.
Why wasn’t she wearing a helmet on the ski slopes, more than one columnist has asked. Did the doctors in the resort screw up? Or was it the doctors in Montreal?
A couple of news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, allowed themselves to indulge in a little armchair diagnosis. Richardson, they declared, had suffered from a syndrome called “walk and die” — a head trauma that appeared to leave her unaffected at first, but then proved deadly serious within an hour. The Times quoted a UCLA brain specialist who, of course, had not examined the patient, and a neurosurgeon at Cedars Sinai, who also had not examined the patient.
It took a commenter at the L.A. Times website to bring this madness to heel. “I understand that many may be curious as to how one can seem fine after an accident and wind up critically ill hours later,” a certain Amy wrote, “so it would be informative to explain Richardson’s malady AFTER WE KNOW WHAT IT IS.”