Bloomberg TV’s Michael McKee, who was headed to a conference at the World Trade Center when the first plane hit the North Tower, jumped out of his taxi and began interviewing witnesses:
Debris and smoke headed straight for me and I joined police and emergency workers who had been standing around and began racing for safety. The concussion from the explosion knocked me to the ground. And then came the clouds of thick black smoke that filled the air. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see. Suddenly, we were frightened by the sound of jets overhead again — what we didn’t know was this time it was our military jets.
Grasping the riverside railing, dozens of people staggered, crawled, and walked through the smoke, with no idea where they were or where they were going, other than away. When the smoke began to lift, I found I was in Battery Park. Bloody, battered, ripped and torn, eventually I made my way back to the newsroom. “My God,” people said. “We thought you were dead.” And then a producer ran up to me. “You look terrible!” he said. “Perfect. Get on the set right away.”
It’s funny, my perspective is so much different than most people’s. I have no macro memories, no sense of the shared overall experience the rest of the world had watching it on TV. But I do have nightmares still, often.
Smith was at home on the upper East Side when the attacks began. He immediately grabbed a cab to go downtown. “I’m a journalist, I run to the fire, that’s what we do,” he says.
He was heading toward the World Trade Center but detoured to Fox’s midtown headquarters on Sixth Ave., where jittery security officials at first wouldn’t let him in. He went to the roof of the network’s office building for a report that would “show people the whole city wasn’t on fire.
“By the time I got to the roof, the second tower had come down,” he adds. “It was horrible. It was impossible to get your thoughts around what was going on.”
I carry the events of 9/11 with me always. I don’t consider it a blessing or a curse, although it may be a little of both. It’s just part of my fabric now, because I was there that morning, rushing to Lower Manhattan from my office, using my press credentials to reach the last wall of police officers a block north of the North Tower. Fortunately, they refused to let me get any closer although I argued with them about it at the time.
When I left Midtown, only one tower had been hit, and I’ll never forget the awful wave of realization when I asked a female officer what happened to the second tower and she said, “that’s where the second plane hit.” It was immediately obvious to me, as it was for many others, that we were under attack.