On September 11, 2001, the world changed in an instant after terrorists hijacked four planes, crashing two into the World Trace Center in New York City and another in the side of the Pentagon. A fourth plane was intended to strike the U.S. Capitol, but instead crashed in a Pennsylvania field thanks to the actions of the crew and passengers. All of these events were covered live by journalists who themselves were visibly shocked by the events. Below, we have assembled examples of press coverage from that day, when 2,996 people were killed.
The above video is all six hours of the Today Show broadcast from that day. About an hour and 50 minutes in, Matt Lauer mentions that there is a “breaking” story at the World Trade Center, but NBC goes to commercial as they wait for footage. When they return, the non-stop coverage begins with Katie Couric reporting that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. The video begins at 7 a.m., with the top story being Michael Jordan’s retirement plans.
“I thought it was an accident, as incredible as that may seem now,” Jon Scott of Fox News told The Hollywood Reporter in 2006. “It should have hit me right away that, OK, they didn’t bring the towers down in ’93 so they were going to try it again from the air.”
“That was the realization, in an instant, that this is a major act of terrorism,” Lauer told The Hollywood Reporter of seeing the second plane hit the towers. “And where there were two, there could be more, and by the way, we’re sitting in Rockefeller Center, a landmark and iconic attraction in New York City.”
Below is two hours of Fox News’ broadcast. The attacks occurred during Fox & Friends.
The following video is the Good Morning America broadcast from ABC News.
CNN’s coverage begins with the news anchor calling the image of smoke coming from the World Trade Center a “very disturbing live image.”
CBS News’ The Early Show broadcast, seen below, also originally began with a Michael Jordan report. Moments before the attacks on the World Trade Center, The Early Show was speaking with Ray Romano and Peter Boyle. The attacks happened while Bryant Gumbel was in the middle of a food segment.