Celebrity and entertainment site Radar Online published a photo purporting to show actor Robin Williams, who was found dead this week, at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
The photo accompanied an Aug. 11 story titled, “Battling His Demons: Tortured Robin Williams Photographed At AA Meeting Months Before His Rehab Stay & Suicide.” Radar Online boasted the story as an exclusive, writing
“Williams was photographed looking grim and focused at a San Francisco AA meeting earlier this year.”
It included a photo of Williams. The faces of several other people in the photo are blurred.
Radar Online tagged the end of its story with a note saying:
“If anyone you know, is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please immediately seek help. You can speak with a skilled, trained counselor at a national Suicide Prevention Lifeline crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7 — call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).”
Actress Kristen Johnston called the site out for its ethics breach. In a TwitLonger post, titled “Posting photos of AA mtgs kills people,” she wrote
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“When media outlets decide to override ethics & morality by printing a story/photos of a celebrity at an AA mtg, or what was said, they are ruthlessly destroying the safety people MUST feel to seek help.
“We’re used to being the butt of your jokes. We’re used to the media breathlessly using our addictions to make money.
“However, when outlets like @Radar_Online, print photos of a celebrity ( and others) at an AA meeting trying to get well, they have crossed the line and have blood on their hands.”
She further asked “how many people won’t get help now, for fear of being exposed” and demanded “Stop using 12 step meetings to sell stories.”
Yesterday, iMediaEthics reported on CBS and San Francisco CBS-affiliate KPIX which interviewed a KPIX employee who claimed to have went to AA with Williams.