I took a tea break at 12:45 and for some reason switched on CNN and found myself in the middle of Scotty's press conference. Hung on to the top of the hour hoping for some genuine wall-to-wall insanity. Say what you want to about it, there are some things you can count on CNN to provide. In spades.
The anchor was Kyra Phillips. She may be charitably described as having been incoherent. She kept babbling something about having "trained with NORAD", and running over some procedural checklist. I guess the story by that point (and have you ever noticed how often you have to fill in the story for yourself while they blather on about tangents?) was how effective the command procedures had been, seeing that we had shots of the decidedly non-threatening-looking two seater prop job on the ground, and the decidedly non-swarthy pilot in handcuffs. I decided to wait out the first commercial break, which by happy coincidence began with a promo about how CNN is your stop for security news. Because security isn't just about politics, it's personal. Which would be a nice tag line if only they'd cover how it sometimes is just about politics, but apparently they don't have Tom Ridge's home number. When we came back Kyra tossed it over to Kelli Arena in the field. Kelli was somewhat calmer, though she couldn't quite decide if the field in question was in Frederick or Fredericksburg. I'm guessing she's been training with some Civil War reinactors. Kelli informed us of the "two very important questions" which reporters had apparently shouted at that man who plays the President on teevee. "Did he think he was personally targeted?" and "Did he give the shoot to kill order?" And, she explained, "The President did not decide to answer."
He did not decide to answer. Now, okay, people speaking extemporaneously get tripped up from time to time. But the mental process behind that one fascinates me. Are we still playing the "Oh, yes, despite all appearances, George W. Bush makes decisions!" game? Or did she just get caught in a time warp?
I love wall-to-wall coverage, though I admit it's gone from the thrill of watching semi-competent cliff divers to merely watching another battered corpse float down river. The afternoon Reagan was shot I watched Dan Rather interviewing a doctor about what might be happening in surgery, and the doc said something about "opening up the chest". I channel-hopped after that, and within five minutes both ABC and NBC were announcing there were reports of Reagan undergoing open-heart surgery. But the gold standard was CNN's coverage of TWA flight 800, where the same helicopter shot of lights on the sea accompanied two hours of speculation so wild it had to top a group of nine-year-olds at a slumber party discussing sex. Things have improved greatly since then. At one point Ms Arena noted that some bit of pure invention she'd just got done reporting "was just a rumor!" She moved her hands up and down for emphasis, for fear somebody listening to her might believe what she'd just said.