Back in 2001, I was in first period French class when the planes hit. A messenger came by and told my French teacher, but evidently she decided it wasn’t significant enough to merit interrupting class. I got a confused story of what had happened by my locker after class and was glued to the TV for the rest of the school day. I didn’t tune in to the news until after the first tower had collapsed. So I missed much of the initial reaction.
I’ve always wanted to watch the TODAY show broadcast from that day, to see the initial confusion as to what happened, then the realization of what was going on after the second plane hit. I’d scoured around online a few times before, but always come up empty. So I was thrilled to see that MSNBC was showing a “minimally-edited” replay of the 9/11/2001 TODAY show last night.
A few things stood out:
- Nobody realized how large the first plane was after it hit. Most of the reports were of a “small plane”, though Katie Couric rightly pointed out that it was hard to imagine a small plane causing such damage.
- Even when the second plane hit, most observers on the ground thought it was smaller than it actually was. It wasn’t until they saw video that they realized how large it was. They were both Boeing 767’s.
- NBC’s coverage was fairly modest compared to the rumors that were flying on the other networks. At one point they mentioned “six dead” in one tower. If only…
The main point though, was just how big an event this was. After six years of 9/11, 9/11, 9/11!, it’s easy to forget how huge and completely unexpected the attacks were.
I wish the broadcast had been even more “minimally edited”. What was Katie Couric talking about before they received reports that something had hit the WTC tower? What would have been newsworthy on 9/11/2001? What were the commercials like? I would have loved to see the ads that must have aired before the plane first hit. They would have reinforced that 2001 really was a long time ago. Consider this: on 9/11, it was considered newsworthy that so many people had gone online to get up-to-the-minute news on the attacks. Nowadays, what else would you do?