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Hyping Hurricane Irene: The Monday Morning Quarterback Edition

As predicted, news outlets have begun questioning whether they or their competitors spent too much time and effort hyping Hurricane Irene. While Irene has caused billions of dollars in damage and took at least 20 lives, New York City and the surrounding areas–which were the focus of much of the national coverage–were largely unharmed, save for some minor damage.

NBC’s “Today” ran a segment this morning asking whether Irene was overhyped by the media. To its credit, it did not exclude NBC from the segment, as some networks are prone to do when discussing matters of the media:

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CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” this evening will be dedicated to the hype question, if a preview on CNN is any indication.

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For The Weather Channel, A Hurricane is Primetime

New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter was embedded with a Weather Channel team in North Carolina over the weekend, and the fruits of his labor are now available. Stelter was working alongside Weather’s Mike Seidel in the Outer Banks of North Carolina:

“We haven’t missed a live shot in three hours!” he exclaimed while trying to stand up on the battered beach here in his seventh hour of live television reporting. A minute later, he was back on the Weather Channel, where he would stay for a total of 15 hours on Saturday, seeing, feeling and tasting the storm several times each hour as a surrogate for viewers and a guide for evacuees.

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Diane Sawyer Drops By WABC to Talk Hurricane Irene

Just a few hours after “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams took the helm of the 1 p.m. hour on WNBC, his ABC counterpart, “World News” anchor Diane Sawyer, dropped by WABC to talk about her experience reporting overnight in New York City.

Sawyer — who said she slept in the ABC News offices overnight — told WABC anchors Joe Torres and Sandra Bookman about her experience visiting NYC’s shelters Saturday night, as the worst of the storm passed through the Tri-State area.

Visit our sister site, TVSpy, to watch the video of Sawyer’s appearance.

The Hurricane Irene Hype Backlash Begins

The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz writes the first of what will likely be many stories over the next few days declaring Hurricane Irene a triumph of media hype over dangerous substance. Kurtz noted that Irene will end up costing billions of dollars and is responsible for at least 11 deaths at last count, but he still argues that the hype was too much:

Someone has to say it: Cable news was utterly swept away by the notion that Irene would turn out to be Armageddon. National news organizations morphed into local eyewitness-news operations, going wall-to-wall for days with dire warnings about what would turn out to be a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest possible ranking. “Cable news is scaring the crap out of me, and I WORK in cable news,” Bloomberg correspondent Lizzie O’Leary tweeted.

I say this with all due respect to the millions who were left without power, to those communities facing flooding problems, and of course to the families of the 11 people (at last count) who lost their lives in storm-related accidents.

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Brian Williams anchoring on WNBC

Brian Williams is anchoring the 1pm hour on WNBC in New York giving a break to the local anchors who’ve been on the air for more than 24 hours.

“Brian we want to thank you for joining us in our News 4 newsroom,” said meteorologist Janice Huff. “Well it was a journey of four entire floors on the elevator, happy to be here Janice.”

Williams traces his local news roots to WCBS in New York where he was an anchor/reporter from 1987-1993.

Williams also went on WNBC’s 11pm newscast last night too with Chuck Scarborough and Sue Simmons . “You came down here with what in mind?” asked Simmons. “Spend time with colleagues. Commiserate about the sorry state of our weather,” said Williams. Video after the jump.

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Gov. Christie: No Regrets About Going on National TV before Local Radio

At an early afternoon storm briefing, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was asked about whether he regrets making the decision to go on national TV this morning before going on local radio in New Jersey, for the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans without power, but who might have battery-operated radios. “No,” was Christie’s abrupt answer, before shaking his head and saying, “Next question.” Christie appeared on “Meet the Press,” “This Week” and on the CBS News 11am special anchored by Scott Pelley as well as on national cable news.

New Jersey has only a couple commercial TV stations, including WMGM in Atlantic City. In north Jersey people depend on New York TV while Philadelphia covers South Jersey.

Last month, Gov. Christie got the state of New Jersey out of the TV business, transferring the operations of state-owned NJN TV to New York public TV’s WNET. NJN had been on the air for 43 years. The shutdown meant the layoff of 130 employees.

Later in his briefing, Christie joked about learning about the idea of pool TV news coverage. He’ll be taking a helicopter tour of the state in the coming hours which will be pool material for any broadcaster that wants it. “Like yesterday, I didn’t know about the whole pool coverage thing,” said Christie, before joking about the 2012 presidential race he’s not in: “I have some visitors from Iowa to help assess the storm damage and some from New Hampshire too.”

Hurricane Irene Makes Second Landfall in Little Egg Inlet, NJ

You know all that talk about preparing for the worst but hoping for the best? That appears to be what’s happened with Irene, now a tropical storm, and moving out of New York City. The storm made a second landfall around 5:30am this morning along the Jersey Shore and a third in New York City as a tropical storm.

The cable networks and New York’s local stations remained in live coverage throughout the night. And there continues to be a lot of resource sharing across the networks: CNBC’s Bob Pisani spotted on the Weather Channel talking about whether the NYSE will open tomorrow, WNBC hits on MSNBC, WCBS and WABC coverage on CNN, and FBN simulcasting FOX5.

Winds are still gusting pretty good, power is out for thousands across the Tri-State, airports and mass transit are still closed, there is flooding in low-lying areas, and Suburban rescues are making the local news. But at the moment, the clouds are beginning to lift in Manhattan as Tropical Storm Irene now moves north. All that hoping/preparing may have worked. (Radar image from 10:21am)

For Geraldo Rivera, Hurricane Irene is Personal

During his two hour show tonight, anchored from outside Fox News headquarters, Geraldo Rivera got personal. After doing a Q&A with his younger brother Craig Rivera, Geraldo said that his 92-year-old mother, who had been staying with him, was moved inland to Craig Rivera’s home. But now that Craig is reporting on the storm, she’s staying with his sister… whose name just happens to be Irene.

“It is a very extraordinary situation, ladies and gentlemen, when you are used to reporting these storms hitting somebody else. When it is somebody else’s family involved you can report objectively and swagger and do everything you have to do to get the story. But with your family it is divided attention,” Rivera said, adding that keeping track of his 5 kids is like “herding cats.” Rivera’s wife and young daughters are staying at a Times Square hotel “on a low floor.”

Earlier in the show, Rivera said his son Cruz was “standing by on my dock.” Rivera is an avid sailor.

Guess Who’s Sleeping Here Tonight?

As we told you yesterday, CNBC is planning all day coverage of Hurricane Irene tomorrow from 6am-11pm. Anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera gets the first shift at 6am. And earlier she Tweeted her sleeping arrangements at CNBC HQ in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

By popular demand: Air-Mattress Sweet Air-Mattress. I’m live on #CNBC 6am-9am tomorrow. #irene will be on top of NYC.

Earlier, Caruso-Cabrera reported that 110 air mattresses and three tankers of potable water had been delivered to CNBC.

Hurricane Irene: Saturday Network Newscasts

Brian Williams anchored a one-hour “Nightly News” again tonight. Williams, who anchored from the Jersey Shore last night, was in his New York studio tonight. While many affiliates may have passed on taking the second half hour, the entire show was simulcast on MSNBC. In addition to correspondents along the East Coast, Harry Smith did a live shot from Times Square, where most everything is shut down, saying about a crowd that had gathered to watch: “They have determined that we are in fact the only attraction worth paying any attention to.”

David Muir anchored “World News.” Similar to Smith’s report on NBC, Diane Sawyer walked the streets of Times Square — right in front of ABC’s studios — with the New York City angle. GMA’s Sam Champion was in Battery Park.

Anthony Mason was in anchoring the CBS “Evening News” which also devoted the entire show to Irene.