Fox News Channel tonight took the unusual step of pre-empting The O’Reilly Factor to continue covering the shooting at Fort Hood. It marked the first time since the network unveiled the Fox News Deck in October that Shep Smith and his Deck took over the entire 8 PM hour for the breaking news in the network’s heavily watched 8 PM ET time slot. In the early days of CNN’s coverage of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, CNN’s Anderson Cooper had beat Bill O’Reilly in the news demo more than once. When the ratings tonight are issued by Nielsen it will determine whether this programming move thwarted another timeslot win in the news demo by CNN, which tends to score bigger than usual ratings when major, catastrophic news breaks.
Greta Van Susteren did her show live at 7 PM, including a hit with Shep. After O’Reilly’s hour, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity went live with more coverage of the shooting. No word from FNC yet as to when was the last time it pre-empted O’Reilly in his timeslot. In other breaking news about breaking news, CNN actually broke away from its monthlong wing-to-wing coverage of that missing plane to go with the Fort Hood story. Apparently this morning’s daily shred of micro-news on the aging story wasn’t enough to keep the intrepid network from covering the tragedy in Central Texas.