I read this morning on a Web site -- see note below from that Web site -- that CNN Correspondent John King had a "meltdown" that was captured on tape. I may be one of the few who understands John's frustration with CNN. While I was not "lucky" enough to get caught on tape with my frustration, when I worked at CNN I had a similar experience.
On September 11 my husband and I were standing on the rooftop of the parking lot at the Reagan airport in D.C. headed to our cars. The airspace around the airport had just been shut down because the WTC buildings had been hit, so it was silent -- which was weird for those of us who spend a lot of time at the airport.
Suddenly I heard a plane, so I looked up where one expects to see planes. I saw nothing. Then suddenly I heard a huge explosion and I looked down and over at the Pentagon, which is a short distance away. There was an enormous black cloud spewing up from the Pentagon.
While my husband and I were unsure if the airport was next to get hit or bombed, I grabbed my cell phone and called CNN in Washington, D.C. immediately since I worked there.
I said, "This is Greta, put me on the air. The Pentagon has been hit."
I was told, "Right away."
I waited... and waited... and waited.
While waiting, I did not know if the airport would be hit. I did know from years of experience at that airport that if I got in my car, I would lose the cell connection since once you get in your car and start down the parking ramp you lose the connection. So I waited more.
Finally, someone answered: "Sports."
I said, "Sports?"
"Yes, sports. Sports in Atlanta."
They had mistakenly sent me to the sports desk in Atlanta. Needless to say, I was surprised.
"This is Greta Van Susteren,” I said. “The Pentagon has just been hit. Get me on the air."
"They transferred you to sports in Atlanta."
I didn't have time to express my thoughts about the fact that this huge blunder had been made.
The guy at sports then put me on hold and this time I heard in the background CNN air. My husband said his phone service was bad and he was not getting through, so I did not want to hang up from CNN since I had a connection. I hoped that someone would figure out how to put me on the air since this is a routine matter. After some time, I heard the story being reported -- on hold you can hear CNN air -- so I hung up and ran for the car and got out of there.
My frustration was not about getting it "first," but that we were under attack in the nation's capital and getting information out to its residents fast seemed of extreme importance.
Here is the story reported about John King in reference to the breaking news about President Reagan's death:
“CNN's John King yelled into his cell phone that CNN had been beaten and was so upset he threatened to quit. King ended his tantrum by throwing his cell phone to the ground. The meltdown was captured on tape.
“Insiders credit ABC News chief David Westin with working the phones to break the story first.”
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