Jerry Springer says at Edinburgh TV Festival his show wasn't responsible for deaths of two guests

Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock

Jerry Springer has defended the duty of care of his tabloid talk show after being questioned at Edinburgh International Television Festival about the deaths of two former guests.

Speaking at the conference on 23 August, the talk show host, 75, said blaming the controversial show for two people dying after they appeared on it, would be comparable to blaming Walmart if people died after visiting the store.

He commented: “In both those cases, let’s be clear – it was several weeks or months later.

“The situation in that life hadn’t changed, so it would be the same thing to say that some horrible thing happened because they shopped at Walmart.

“Two months ago they were at Walmart and you’re suing Walmart because they got into an argument at Walmart.”

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In 2002, Springer was sued by the son of 52-year-old Nancy Campbell-Panitz, who was killed by her ex-husband just hours after the show they both appeared on aired.

And earlier this year the family of Blake Alvey, who appeared on the talk show on May 25, 2018, and took his own life weeks later, filed a law-suit against the programme.

They claimed Alvey’s death was the result of “extreme emotional distress” caused by the “negligent and intentional acts” of those involved in the airing of the episode.

Jerry Springer went on to say that if a duty of care is applied to talk show hosts, it should be applied to newspapers and journalists as well.

Referring to his ten-year stint as a news anchor and reporter, he said: “Never once did the station say to a person they were covering, ‘If this story is going to embarrass you, humiliate you, hurt your marriage, or hurt your career, we won’t run it’. So what’s the moral difference?”

Jerry Springer, who welcomed 50,000 guests on to his show over 27 years of broadcasting, explained that going on Jerry Springer is “1000% voluntary” and “you have to beg to be on the show”.

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“So where did this whole thing come from?” he said. “These talk shows with regular people who volunteer to be on, knowing full well what the show is going to be about – oh that’s the crime!

“[Journalists] say their motive is good and deep down they think it is, the public should know this. But that’s pathetic.

“Some of these stories we run purely because they’re celebrities, or because it’s a great story, it’s great drama, it improves ratings, we’ll sell more commercials.”

The Jerry Springer show, which began in 1991 was cancelled in June 2018 after 27 seasons, as a result of low ratings.

Jerry Springer’s new arbitration-based reality court show, Judge Jerry, will launch on 9 September.