News Nets Race to Cover Malaysian Plane Crash

Updated: Broadcast nets will expand evening newscasts to an hour
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The cable and broadcast news networks scrambled Thursday to cover a Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed along the Ukraine/Russia border, with NBC, ABC and CBS cutting into regular programming.

At 11:36 a.m. ET, the airline's twitter account tweeted that it had lost contact with the MH17 plane, which took off from Amsterdam, somewhere over Ukrainian airspace. Multiple reports stated the plane was shot down by militants, killing all 295 passengers aboard, citing an Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

CBS News broke into its regular programming with a Special Report at 11:39 a.m. ET. Evening News anchor Scott Pelley is anchoring from New York along with correspondent Margaret Brennan. Safety and Aviation Expert Capt. Sully Sullenberger, and correspondents Mark Phillips and Major Garrett have contributed as well.

CBS News is sending correspondents Mark Phillips to Ukraine; Seth Doane to Malaysia; and Elizabeth Palmer to Amsterdam, where the plane took off.

NBC also cut into regular programming at 11:39 a.m., with Today’s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie anchoring. Tom Costello, former NTSB investigator Greg Feith, former NCTC director Michael Leiter, and terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann all contributed. Nightly News anchor Brian Williams took over at 1 p.m.

ABC broke in shortly after at 11:41 a.m. with incoming World News anchor David Muir, who stayed on until 11:58 a.m.; ABC News came back on the air at 12:08 p.m. with new chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, who has been leading the coverage with correspondents Martha Raddatz, Brian Ross, Jonathan Karl, Jim Avila and aviation consultant John Nance. An ABC News rep said that Thursday’s Nightline will lead with the latest developments.

President Barack Obama addressed the incident around 2:10 p.m. during a previously scheduled news conference in Delaware. CBS went back into regular programming at 2:30 p.m., with NBC following suit at 2:57 p.m. As of 3:50 p.m., ABC was still in its Special Report.

All three broadcast nets will expand their evening newscasts to an hour Thursday night.

The cable news nets have been providing wall-to-wall coverage and are expected to do so throughout the day.

CNN broke in at 11:22 a.m. with simulcast coverage across CNNUS and CNN International. Anderson Cooper is anchoring along with Richard Quest and Jim Sciutto.

MSNBC went on the air with its report at 11:33 a.m. with Tamron Hall.

Fox News began its coverage around the same time, pre-empting its noon show Outnumbered along with part of its regular daytime schedule. Shepard Smith has been leading the network’s coverage on the Fox News Deck.

FNC says its regular primetime lineup will air live shows. Megyn Kelly will anchor an additional live hour from 11 p.m. until midnight.

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