Update: 4:07pm: MSNBC was first to report Jerry Falwell‘s hospitalization at 12:44pm today. CNN also had it at 12:44pm. HLN followed at 12:46pm. Fox News Channel was last at 12:56pm…
A couple lucky journalists are attending tonight’s VIP white tie state dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth II.
TV newsers on the guest list: NBC’s David Gregory and his wife Beth Wilkinson and ABC’s Robin Roberts.
Other journos are Reuter’s Steven Holland and Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe. Other TV personalities are Elizabeth Hasselbeck and CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz…
> Also: Washingtonian says Brian Williams “looked crest-fallen” when the Queen walked past him at a garden party today…
60 Minutes has the first network television interview with George Tenet. The interview, by Scott Pelley, airs on Sunday.
But there seems to be confusion about who has the first live interview with the ex-CIA director. “Tenet will join Larry King on Monday — his first live interview about his new book,” Kiran Chetry said on American Morning today.
But NBC’s Today Show actually has the first live interview, 14 hours before King. Apparently CNN has the first live primetime interview…
MSNBC was first with the news of Vice President Dick Cheney‘s hospital visit.
Kelly O’Donnell ran to her White House camera position to break the news. “Pardon my breathnessless, I ran across the street,” she said, adding a minute later: “It’s a long run.”
FNC was second at 9:32am. CNN was last at 9:40am…
MSNBC and Fox News reported Boris Yeltsin‘s death within seconds of each other at 9:45am. HLN followed at 9:50am.
CNN had the only live pictures from the drillfield at Va. Tech, so it waited to report the news until 9:55am.
CNN had the first live report from Moscow, with correspondent Matthew Chance on the air at 9:56am. FNC had Pentagon correspondent Jennifer Griffin on camera at 11am. (Griffin is traveling with Robert Gates.)
> Update: 3:11pm: “CNN had live pics from Virginia Tech, but does that excuse waiting 10 minutes to break this news?,” an insider asks…
TV Week’s Michele Greppi has kudos for Robin Roberts, Harry Smith, John Donvan, and these TV newsers in her column this week:
Charles Gibson: “He has the experience and an innate humanity that transforms even the most difficult and potentially dicey interviews into a conversation that will not leave a viewer squirming, but with a better sense of the subject’s experience, however unimaginable.”
Terry Moran: He “is developing into his own as an anchorman instead of patterning himself too closely after the late Peter Jennings. Put him at the top of the list of successors, when that time comes.”
Matt Lauer: “The Charles Gibson of NBC News.”
John Roberts: “Was so convincing and comfortable that it was hard to remember why he had not persuaded CBS brass that he should succeed Dan Rather three years ago.”
Shep Smith: “Someone please give this man a steady assignment that makes more use of his people skills than of his inflective eyebrows and his admittedly amusing chats with Jane Skinner.”
The frantic media competition in Blacksburg “forced the networks, trying to balance the compassionate and the sensational, to tilt too far to the latter when it came to on-screen graphics,” Broadcasting & Cable notes in a cover story about Va. Tech coverage. Quoting it:
“Words like ‘massacre’ and ‘bloodbath’ directly offset the sympathetic words of anchors and on-site correspondents.
‘We probably have to modulate ourselves with respect to titles,’ says [CBS News prez Sean] McManus. The network used the graphic ‘Blacksburg Bloodbath’ from a CBS.com Web page headline during an on-air promo.
ABC’s [senior VP Paul] Slavin agrees. ‘This story didn’t need any sensationalism,’ he says. ‘But people are always looking for that extra rating point.’”
Fox News Channel was first cable news net with the breaking newstout of NASA in Houston on Friday. Shep Smith broke the news at 3:23pm. CNN and MSNBC followed at 3:27pm.
“Shep Smith is kicking ass and taking names on the Houston story right now. This is a guy that’s literally made for breaking news,” an e-mailer said a few minutes later.
Over on CNN, “space correspondent” Miles O’Brien got a lot of air time as he called into The Situation Room…
> Update: 11:26am: “The fact is, by any journalistic standard, every network buried the lead (Gonzales) Thursday night,” a former network correspondent writes to TVNewser. “They all decided the news was about themselves, namely the not-newsworthy fact that the public wants less of this massacre porn. and so, by covering the ‘outrage,’ the networks just get to do more damage…”
Thursday, April 19 leads:
Brian Williams: Good evening. Last night here on this broadcast we aired a small portion of the rants and writings and recordings of a mentally ill Virginia Tech student turned mass murderer. Today, across this country and on that campus, people reacted to what they saw…”
Charles Gibson: “Good evening. There is new outrage, tonight, over the tragedy at Virginia Tech. And it is directed at the media. The words of the virginia tech killer were plastered across newspapers and websites today after they started airing on television last night. Raising questions — do we learn anything, seeing the hate of Seung-Hui Cho? Or do we simply play into his sick fantasies? There’s been intense reaction, on the Virginia Tech campus, among victims’ families, indeed, reaction all across the country…”
Katie Couric: “Hello, everyone. A lot of reaction today to that video message from the Virginia Tech shooter, angry reaction aimed at news outlets, including this one, for airing portions of it. CBS News plans to use this video only on a limited basis and only when we feel it’s necessary to tell the story. Law enforcement is using it in its criminal investigation to try to understand the killer’s motives…”
| “Cable news reruns are usually defensible because nobody but invalids — and perhaps TVNewser — watches the stations around the clock. Viewers dip in for five minutes here, 15 or 30 minutes there, and then flit away. Few notice how much recycling goes on.
When a major story like Virginia Tech breaks, viewers linger, wanting to know more. There’s nothing wrong with that expectation. But having committed to going wall-to-wall with the Cho murders, the networks are too cowardly to tell viewers that only 30 minutes of essential Cho story exists, and that viewers should feel free to turn their sets off after they watch that much. Instead, the networks added soy extender and sawdust to inflate 30 minutes of solid news into a six- or seven-hour marathon…”