Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Serene Branson Grammy Incident -- Where Was the Empathy?

Most of you have no doubt seen the scary footage from Sunday night's Grammy coverage by KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where reporter Serene Branson found herself struggling to speak and eventually ended her short report with complete speech aphasia. Most of the clips have been removed by CBS since yesterday, after they received heavy traffic by curious and often ignorant, rude viewers who sent the video viral, but who also failed to realize that there was nothing "funny" about it at all. The lack of empathy for Ms. Branson's plight was staggering, as evidenced by mocking comments that were completely uncalled for. (Kudos to other commenters who rightfully called for understanding of what had really happened. Not everybody out there is an idiot.) Ms. Branson clearly suffered a frightening on-air medical incident, and deserved none of the cheap shots thrown at her by an unnecessarily vicious public.

I can't even find a copy of the footage to post here, but I do think it's important to see it. What nobody is saying enough is what an incredibly brave and professional job Serene did in finishing her report, handing it off, all the while knowing something terrible was happening to her. She did her job beautifully and skillfully, better than any of the rest of us could under the circumstances, I'm sure. She's a real pro.

Why should we want to see her going through this awful ordeal? Because maybe it will educate us to recognize if someone we know is in neurological distress, possibly from a stroke, or perhaps an impending severe migraine headache, and to get them help as soon as we can. There has been some criticism of the reports that Branson was looked at on the scene by paramedics and pronounced okay, then caught a ride home with a co-worker. Considering what had happened to her, that was an inadequate response and she should have been taken to a hospital immediately. So that's what YOU need to do if it happens to somebody and you're there. Don't forget that.

I did find a good video report from this morning's Good Morning America with Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos on ABC, including the footage and some excellent commentary from an M.D. and a female news anchor who similarly suffered an on-air incident, and what that was like. You will gain a new respect for Serene Branson after watching this, I think, and I also think you will be able to see the fear in her eyes that you may not have been able to discern before paying real attention to what was happening to her.

You can watch the Good Morning America report by clicking on this sentence.

NBC's Today also covered the incident this morning, click this sentence.

We've all learned a few things from this event. All our best to Serene.

Update, 2/17: A"Complex Migraine" has been disclosed as the cause of Ms. Branson's on-air episode. Read about it here from People Magazine.


Jane said...

Regardless of the moron comments (which are like a tsunami on the Internet...never fails to amaze me), I think the publicity from this incident might due some good for public awareness on what causes speech aphasia. It really depends on what caused poor Serene's episode. Let's hope it is not something too serious, as it is generally neurological and not some sort of panic attack.

Toby O'B said...

I hope she did get a more thorough follow-up exam and wish her the best.....