Brian Rohrbough says Columbine segment for Oprah permanently canceled

Categories: Media

brian rohrbough photo by john johnston.jpg
Photo by John Johnston
Brian Rohrbough.

A report about the tenth anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School that was originally slated to run on Oprah's April 20 program, but host Oprah Winfrey ordered it yanked at the last minute. In a statement, Winfrey says she made the decision because the footage focused too heavily on killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. But other issues were also in play. Randy Brown, the father of a Columbine student, confirmed in this space that he and other parents complained to producers about the guests in the pre-taped segment -- Kate Battan, Jefferson County's chief Columbine investigator; Dwayne Fuselier, an FBI profiler whose son, also a Columbine student, made a parody video depicting the destruction of the school two years before the assault; and Dave Cullen, author of the book Columbine.

Now, Brian Rohrbough, whose son Daniel was killed in the attack, confirms that he also protested this lineup . In addition, he reveals that in a phone conversation earlier this week, Morgan Bury, a member of the Oprah staff, told him that the segment will not be resurrected. "She specifically called to tell me that this was a permanent decision -- that the show will never be aired," Rohrbough says.

A comment from an Oprah spokeswoman wasn't quite as definitive. "There are no plans to air the segment at this time," she said, pretty much echoing a statement offered on April 20. However, she confirmed that Bury is part of the Oprah team and did not otherwise contradict Rohrbough.

According to Rohrbough, he heard about the Columbine-anniversary package for Oprah when "a producer called seeking photos they wanted to honor the victims with. I asked her who was on the show, and with some hesitancy, she told me. I asked her to let me go on the show with them" -- he had guested once previously, following the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech -- "so the audience wouldn't be deceieved by what they said. And she said she couldn't do that."

Rohrbough says that he and Brown let producers know how unhappy they were about the participation of Battan and Fuselier, as did Sue Petrone, Daniel's mother, and her husband, Rich Petrone -- "and I've heard that other families did as well."

When asked about the overall quality of the Columbine-anniversary items he saw, Rohrbough finds it difficult to generalize. Overall, though, he felt that "the Denver media has done a fairly good job of trying to cover this. The national media, it depends on who you're talking to. They're certainly better now than they were in the beginning."

He saves his biggest compliment for Winfrey: "To Oprah's credit, she had enough concern for the families that this show didn't take place, and now it will never take place."

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