Bin Laden's latest edition
By BroadCasting & Cable Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/30/2001 7:00:00 PM
By Dan Trigoboff and Allison Romano
Once again, Rudy Giuliani, Time magazine's Person of the Year, upstaged Time's also-ran Osama bin Laden. While the New York City mayor's farewell address got widespread attention—including live coverage on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC—the release last week of a bin Laden videotape had significantly less impact.
A worn-looking bin Laden made his appearance through Arab network Al Jazeera, apparently addressing prospective Muslim followers as he praised the "blessed" Sept. 11 attacks. But the event paled in comparison to the buildup and the coverage of the video released earlier this month. That one caused broadcasting and cable nets to interrupt regular programming for its airing and prompted commentary for days afterward.
Little stopped for the tape released last week, broadcast first in part Wednesday and then in full Thursday over Al Jazeera. Afternoon broadcast schedules in this country were not upset by his taped address. Networks played only snippets or stills accompanied by translation or expert commentary, with no plans for a full airing of the 33-minute tape.
"It's not as if they are interviews. It's a video news release," said Fox News' assignment editor David Rhodes. ABC News Vice President Jeffrey Schneider said his network was prepared to interrupt programming but that its content simply lacked the necessary news value for such a decision.
Correspondents did give attention to bin Laden's frail appearance. CNN's terrorism expert noted that bin Laden, who is left-handed, gestured only with his right hand, suggesting he might be injured.
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