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NBC's Today Frets Celebrations After bin Laden's Death Were 'Very Disturbing' to Children

On NBC's Today on Wednesday, co-host Matt Lauer worried about Americans celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden: "...your children are going to see, and have already seen, people in the streets celebrating about the death of someone and that's a contradictory image for them." Today contributor and psychiatrist Gail Saltz replied: "Absolutely, very disturbing for them."

The segment was on how to talk to children about the killing of bin Laden and Saltz speculated that kids may ask: "Why are people partying, being happy that anybody was killed?" She suggested those who celebrated may now regret their actions: "I think it's really important to talk about this, because what you saw was a lot of people who, in the impulse of the moment, reacted in a way that later on they may not be happy about."

Saltz further declared:

...this is a conversation really about moral development that you're going to help your child with. So do they feel right about people partying, and smiling, and looking happy? Does it look different enough from recent pictures we've seen of what went on in Egypt and so on? I think those are the kinds of - and I think it's fine for you to say, 'I don't think they should be celebrating,' if you don't.

Almost as an afterthought she briefly entertained an alternative perspective: "Or 'I think they were celebrating because of their patriotism.'"

At the end of the segment, Lauer concluded: "And always when you're having these discussions try to emphasize things like open-mindedness and-" Both Saltz and child development specialist Robyn Silverman quickly joined in the political correctness. Saltz finished Lauer's sentence: "Tolerance." Silverman agreed: "So important." Saltz then added: "And say that this man looked a certain way doesn't mean that everybody who looks that way is a bad person." Silverman chimed in: "Absolutely." Lauer agreed: "That's important."

Here is a transcript of the May 4 exchange:

8:21AM ET

(...)

MATT LAUER: Some typical questions, this one's from our viewers. 'I talked to my girls about it, they are 8, 10, and 12. They asked me why he was killed and why they didn't just put him in jail where all bad people go.' How do you answer that question?

ROBYN SILVERMAN [CHILD DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST]: I mean, it's a tough question because we - that's what we're taught, that they should go away. But we need to help them see that while this guy was alive, people were frightened about what he could do next, no matter where he was. So the people who were in charge of the safety of our country made a decision that he couldn't be alive.

LAUER: And this kind of plays on that but takes it to the next step, Gail. We're - your children are going to see, and have already seen, people in the streets celebrating about the death of someone and that's a contradictory image for them.

DR. GAIL SALTZ [PSYCHIATRIST AND TODAY CONTRIBUTOR]: Absolutely, very disturbing for them. Why are people partying, being happy that anybody was killed? I think it's really important to talk about this, because what you saw was a lot of people who, in the impulse of the moment, reacted in a way that later on they may not be happy about.

In other words, the question of what is the difference between justice here and revenge? These are the kinds - because this is a conversation really about moral development that you're going to help your child with. So do they feel right about people partying, and smiling, and looking happy? Does it look different enough from recent pictures we've seen of what went on in Egypt and so on? I think those are the kinds of - and I think it's fine for you to say, 'I don't think they should be celebrating,' if you don't. Or 'I think they were celebrating because of their patriotism.'

LAUER: Robin, let me try this one on you, and I don't have a lot of time left. But it seems as if in the very near future we will either see a photo or not see a photo of the body of Osama bin Laden. Your children are going to be possibly exposed to that photo and it's going to be disturbing to them, they're going to have questions. How do you handle it?

SILVERMAN: You wait for them to come to you. Limit media exposure as much as you can. Keep routines similar and be available to your children as much as possible for their concerns and their questions.

LAUER: And always when you're having these discussions try to emphasize things like open-mindedness and-

SALTZ: Tolerance

LAUER: Tolerance and things like that.

SILVERMAN: So important.

SALTZ: And say that this man looked a certain way doesn't mean that everybody who looks that way is a bad person.

SILVERMAN: Absolutely.

LAUER: That's important. Gail and Robin, thank you both very much.

- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.