Yesterday, I noted how passenger Jeff Kolodjay spoke to the media about his harrowing experience and about pilot Chesley Sullenberger’s heroism immediately after emerging from the frigid waters of the Hudson River. The video was played many times last night. It bugged the hell out of me. And here’s why: Kolodjay’s ears and nose were red. He had no coat, short sleeves, and only a flimsy cap on his head while the bundled-up reporters stood there sticking their recorders and cameras in his face. When a reporter challenged him on not even being wet, he pointed out that his pants had been soaking and were frozen solid on his legs. He could have said, “It’s 20 degrees out here and 40 degrees in the water, you ninny!” Instead, he patiently and graciously spoke to the media pack for another several minutes. He described letting women (including one with a baby) off the plane first. He was amazingly calm, thoughtful, gracious, good-humored, and at times, overwhelmed with emotion.
Too bad the clods around him demonstrated such ill manners. Eventually, someone gave him a coat. (Watch about a minute into this video — which was filmed at the very end of the media mob scene.) It’s not clear if it was a journalist who finally gave him some warm clothing while all the other reporters shivered despite being covered head to toe. I know they have to do their jobs. But how about a little humanity and consideration? Geez.
The thing is, Kolodjay seems like such a decent guy, he probably didn’t mind or notice the media mob’s thoughtlessness. But it was there and it was stark and it was embarrassing.
Let’s walk through the middle of the media mob scene frame by frame. (Video here.)
Reporterette Number One looks warm and chic in her winter coat and turtleneck. Media Guy Number One in the black hat pushes himself up front in the right-hand foreground. Kolodjay in the middle looks cold.
Media Guy Number Two in the brown hat approaches. Media Gal Number Two in the back has a thicker hat than Kolodjay and a cozy scarf. Kolodjay looks really cold.
Kolodjay’s ears are red. We see more of Media Guy Number Two’s big black coat. Media Guy Number Three in the back nears the scene in huge hooded outerwear. Kolodjay’s ears are red. He looks cold.
Media Guy Number Four rushes up. Nope, not to give his cozy hat and coat to Kolodjay. To stick the mic in his face, silly. Media Gal Number Three wrapped in scarf, hat, and heavy jacket does the same. Oh, and pay attention to the furry-topped guy running from the back. Meanwhile, Kolodjay’s ears and nose have grown even redder. Crikey, he’s got to be cold.
There’s Furry-Topped Media Guy! Coming to the rescue to offer his winter apparel to Kolodjay, who has just been through hell? Nope again.
First to pester. Last to respond with a helping hand. Media vultures at work. Guess they were too busy being “objective” to see a fellow human freezing his buns off right in front of their faces. Oh, but I’m certain Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, and company are now frantically wooing Kolodjay for the next-day, Big Get interview with all sorts of special enticements to compensate.
Because They Care.
Compare and contrast:
Many passengers rushed toward the back, thinking that was where the emergency exits were, Mr. Zuhoski said, but that part of the fuselage seemed to be sinking, and flooding, faster. “I started to get, you know, close to my neck underwater. I just thought I was going to drown right there.”
He stripped down to his underwear, the better to swim to safety. As the crowd thinned out, he crawled across the top of the seats and clambered out. He said he believed he was one of the last people off the plane, and he swam to a dinghy that was bobbing in the Hudson.
Everyone else in the dinghy had their clothes, and everyone was dry. They huddled, and each peeled off something to outfit him.
Afterthought: What would JTP do? Somehow, I don’t think Joe would have let Jeff stand in front of him freezing while doing an interview. But I guess that wouldn’t be very Professional.