What could WDBJ7-TV have done to prevent Wednesday morning’s tragic on-air murders? Unfortunately, probably not a thing.
I’m a second-guesser, and I have spent much of the last 48 hours racking my brain about what the CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, could have done differently. Based on what I’ve been able to discern, the station did everything right.
(I see that Eric Meyer of The Employer Handbook agrees, more or less.)
Here is a rough recreation of my own internal dialogue:
That lawsuit against the station in Tallahassee should have been a big red flag. Yes, we know that Vester Lee Flanagan, II, aka Bryce Williams, filed a discrimination lawsuit (reportedly settled) against his previous employer, a television station in Tallahassee. That was in the year 2000. But Mr. Flanagan wasn’t hired at WDBJ until 2012. Even if WDBJ had done a civil records check before hiring Mr. Flanagan (not likely for a TV job – at most, all they would have done was a criminal check, which it appears would have been clean), they probably wouldn’t have looked back more than 10 years and therefore would have missed the lawsuit.