The traditional Big Three networks went into their evening newscasts Friday with the Paris terror attacks very much a breaking story. David Muir, anchor on ABC, spoke of “the horror unfolding in Paris” as the broadcast went live. Besides numerous stills and a few videos from stricken central Paris, ABC showed video of an international soccer match at a Paris stadium, the players interrupted mid-kick by an explosion outside the stadium, then President Francois Hollande in the audience, looking on in deep concern.
On CBS, anchor Scott Pelley threw it to correspondent Elaine Cobbe in Paris, speaking with the Eiffel Tower over her shoulder. She noted that the hostage situation “is still underway”, with as many as 100 people being held at a nightclub. (Law enforcement liberated the club less than an hour later.) “Usually the city is teeming” on a Friday night, she said. Not tonight.
On NBC, one eyewitness told anchor Lester Holt it was like “a scene out of a movie,” with a shooter running unchecked and police hiding behind their parked vehicles. Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent reporting from Istanbul, was asked to “connect the dots” between terrorism in Paris and other recent mass fatalities.
The broadcasts turned to whether the culprit is aligned with ISIS or Al Qaeda. Brian Ross, ABC chief investigative reporter, spoke of the Paris operation’s level of sophistication—a notion seconded by defense specialist Michael Leiter, calling it a “game changer” on NBC.
Then it was on a possible link to the presumed killing of so called Jihadi John in a drone strike, and our own terror concerns in the U.S. Holt reported: “There’s no specific threat raised against the U.S.”
At 6:45 ET, NBC went to a break, followed by CBS a minute later, and ABC a minute after that.
All are in for a long night, and a long weekend.