The interview shows the difficulty in communicating when English isn’t the language of your source. In the end, it only reveals how with its vast resources the mainstream media doesn’t really know what to do with what it gets. The interview was painful and awkward, and given the time constraints of live TV, barely got skin deep on this story. It needed a translation that only the ethnic media could provide.
But hey, it’s TV. As Don Henley wrote in “Dirty Laundry,” his rock lullaby to TV news, “Get the widow on the set…”
Of course, Meredith Viera was appropriately sensitive and gently probing in her interview of a woman identified only as “Nga.” Not revealing her name nor location was the price TODAY paid for the exclusive, but identity has been everything in the story. Is it Jiverly Voong or Wong? By allowing Nga her anonymity, they essentially made the story somewhat generic.
This could be about any Asian American immigrant with poor English who had an extremely bad day.
Nga did contradict the notion by some that the acts by her loner brother were predictable. She said the family members were “surprised and shocked to hear the news.”
When asked if her brother was depressed about losing his job last year, Nga said,”No, I didn’t see that he was very depressed from losing his job. And he was very frustrated from his English speaking skill.”
Clearly, she said he wasn’t depressed. But her diction contradicts that. What did she mean? Live TV doesn’t get at that.
But then came the most revealing answer.
“He didn’t share any of his past and feelings and he kept all his frustrations inside and didn’t want to share with anybody in the family,” Nga said. “And I think this pressure increased his frustration and I’m so sorry that he acted in such a terribly inappropriate way.”
Nga also said she was upset with a police investigator’s use of the words “coward” and “selfish” to describe her brother. “(The investigator) did not know him. I can see my brother lost his rational thinking. Of course, I’m upset to have him thought of in that way.”
In the end, what realy was accomplished was a way for the family to express its sorrow. “My family was very shocked to hear the news. They were very sorry for all the victims and their families.”
That doesn’t get to why, he did it. But Nga’s answers hint at what is common for many Asians.
We keep things inside. We don’t share, nor seek help. When there’s a transgression, we don’t express. In some cases, we don’t know how. So we endure. We don’t fight. We take it, and take it , and take it.
And then it’s too late.