It was a great “get” for NBC News, coming, as it did, just days after ABC’s World News Tonight had snapped Nightly‘s 288-week total viewer winning streak. As soon as the interview aired on the East Coast, other news outlets glommed on, effectively promoting NBC’s newscast to viewers in other time zones where it hadn’t yet aired. CNN, for instance, featured Anderson Cooper in North Charleston last night, but his program used NBC’s footage of Holt’s interview with Feidin Santana, who said he began recording the confrontation between Scott and police officer Michael Slager when he heard a Taser being used.
Early stats suggest NBC’s newscast led ABC’s by about 193,000 viewers last night – compared with its 432,000-viewer lag on Monday, according to Nielsen fast nationals. (For the week, however, Nightly News trails World News Tonight by about 73,000 viewers, according to preliminary stats).
Slager has been arrested and charged with murder for shooting Scott after a traffic stop on Saturday. The video appears to show Slager shooting Scott in the back as he fled the scene.
“Before I started recording, they were down on the floor,” Santana told Holt. “I remember the police [officer] had control of the situation. He had control of Scott. And Scott was trying just to get away from the Taser. But like I said, he never used the Taser against the cop.
“As you can see in the video, the police officer just shot him in the back,” Santana continued. “I knew right away I had something on my hands.”
Asked about the two men in the confrontation, Santana said, “He has his family, Mr. Scott also has his family. I think, you know, [Slager] made a bad decision, and you pay for your decisions in this life.”
He concluded, “Mr. Scott didn’t deserve this, and there were other ways that can be used to get him arrested, and that wasn’t the proper way to do that.”
This morning, NBC News’s attention-getting exclusive with accidental journalist Santana continued, as he sat down with Matt Lauer on Today show, saying he now is afraid of possible reaction to his video:
That interview aired this morning a few hours before ABC News issued the latest weekly stats detailing how its Good Morning America is delivering its largest total viewer and news demo margins over Today in more than two decades.
“Many are understandably viewing events here through the lense of other high profile deadly encounters with police,” Holt wrote on Facebook as he broadcast from North Charleston.
“In talking to people here I get the sense they are encouraged justice appears to be moving swiftly. But there is anger too.
“I spent many days in North Charleston for a 2013 Dateline NBC hour on a program that helped rehabilitate low level drug offenders by offering them a chance to finish their education, earn a legitimate living and move their lives forward.
“Their mentors were two North Charleston police officers. One white, one black, who were determined to help these young men, even if it included driving them to classes or their jobs. It was inspiring,” he wrote, adding it was “sad to be back here under such different circumstances.”