U.S. TV news operations expecting to start early today with blanket coverage of three western states’ primaries and the fracas of the 2016 presidential cycle, had to pull off major pivots when pre-dawn terrorist attacks in Brussels left 30 dead and nearly 230 injured according to officials, with those numbers expected to rise.
CNN’s Senior International Correspondent Nima Elbagir has been on the air live from Brussels with coverage of morning rush-hour explosions at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro since 3:22 AM ET.
At NBC News, MSNBC broke in with coverage at 4 AM ET. Brian Williams is anchoring MSNBC’s breaking coverage throughout the day. Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie anchored a special edition of Today, titled Terror In Brussels, following live breaking news coverage that began at 5 AM ET.
Fox News Channel’s providing wall-to-wall live coverage of the breaking news with live shots from SKY News. FNC’s Kelly Wright broke into overnight at 3:42 AM ET with news of explosions in Brussels. Fox & Friends started early, at 4:30 AM ET. Senior foreign affairs correspondent Greg Palkot was en route to Brussels.
CBS News began reporting the story at 3:59 AM ET with anchor Anne-Marie Green interviewing CBS News Correspondent Charlie D’Agata via phone from Brussels, where he’s been stationed since Friday. CBSN’s Vladimir Duthiers joined Green at 5 AM.
CBSN, CBS News’ 24/7 digital streaming news network, began live coverage at 4:10 AM. CBS This Morning’s Norah O’Donnell, Gayle King and Anthony Mason began extended coverage at 6 AM and continued to anchor an extended broadcast of the morning show, as well as a previously planned CBS News Special Report for President Obama’s remarks from Havana at 10 AM, which suddenly added a layer of expected comments on the Brussels attack.
Obama, who is in the middle of a long-planned historic visit to Cuba, only briefly addressed the attacks at the start of his 50-minute address about U.S. Cuban relations, carried by all news outlets. “The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the people of Belgium,” he began, adding, “This is yet another reminder the world must unite regardless of nationality, or race or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.” When it became clear Obama would not return to the pressing subject and as his 50-minute-ish address wore on, some networks reverted to split screens with POTUS sharing the screen with grisly video from the Brussels mayhem, for which ISIS claimed responsibility at about 11:20 AM ET.
Contributing to CBS News’ coverage all day are D’Agata in Brussels and Elizabeth Palmer in London. Allen Pizzey was en route to Brussels, and Holly Williams en route to Paris.
ABC News’ coverage started at 4 AM ET. Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos was in the anchor chair at 5 AM. Correspondent Alexander Marquardt reported from Brussels, and Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran jumped in from London and later this morning from Brussels. ABC quickly announced there will be a special one-hour edition of World News Tonight, though other networks planned similarly.
Fox Business Network telecast all-Brussels-related coverage, and commercial free, rom 5 AM ET until 11:12 AM ET, including interviews with GOP candidates Donald Trump and John Kasich.
At 11:08 AM ET, most networks carried a newser from New York City, where, more than 2,600 had been killed on September 11, 2001 when Al-Qaeda flew planes into the World Trade Center towers. Assuring locals there was no specific and credible threat of attack this morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that, nonetheless, “We are in a high state of vigilance and readiness,” citing the 35K members of the NYPD who had been deployed around the city including a “tremendous amount” of police quickly assembled around the subway system, “showing the speed and agility with which the NYPD can move.”
“It is a moment to remember that what the terrorists want is for us to change our ways,” he said. “The terrorists want to undermine our democracy, they want to undermine our values, they want to see us in a panic …But we are going to respond to their effort to create chaos by showing order.”