Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chaotic scene of devastation unfolds on national television

AP Television Writer

Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Last modified at 8:53 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001
© 2001 - The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

NEW YORK {AP}— A chaotic scene of devastation unfolded on national television Tuesday with cameras catching a plane crashing into the World Trade Center and the subsequent collapse of both of the towers.

Television networks began live coverage of a morning of terrorism at the time the first plane hit the New York City landmark. With cameras trained on the smoking skyscraper, television caught the second plane crashing into the other tower, footage replayed several times.

As the terror spread, CNN showed a split-screen view of the smoking World Trade Center and also the Pentagon, where smoke billowed from another plane crash.

Reports spread as fast as television could detail them — planes grounded across the country, the White House evacuated, planes unaccounted for — while commentators tried to keep calm.

"This is the most serious attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor," said NBC's Tom Brokaw.

A producer from CNN, Rose Arce, reported people jumping from the World Trade Center and described the chaos gripping lower Manhattan.

Cameras then caught the collapse of both of the twin towers, showing white smoke billowing throughout the streets of lower Manhattan. A shaken Ashleigh Banfield reporting on MSNBC described debris showering around.

"I've never seen anything like this," a breathless and sobbing Banfield said. "This whole place looks like a war zone. When the cloud came out I could feel the force of it."

Fox News Channel ran a continuous crawl of news bulletins summarizing the series of events.

C-SPAN took phone calls from shaken citizens. One caller from California said: "This is a sign to America: We think we are the strongest country and they hit us; they knew where to hit us."

Other television networks suspended normal programming. The ESPN sports networks showed ABC News reports, VH1 showed CBS News programming, TNT showed CNN coverage. News networks dispensed with commercials for continuous coverage.

The shopping networks QVC and ShopNBC network went dark, saying the tragedy had forced them to suspend programming.

"We share with our customers and employees, our sadness as well as our thoughts and prayers," ShopNBC said in a message.

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