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UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. ET: A quick change in plans: We awakened early in Kentucky not far from the scene of Sunday's airline crash. First on our schedule, we interviewed the coach for the groom (Jonathan Hooker) who was married Friday and died with his bride (Scarlett Parsley) on Flight 5191 as they set off for their honeymoon. Coach Keith Madison had just been to their wedding 36 hours before the crash and like so many went from seeing the couple show such joy to a nightmare for all who knew them. We then went to the NTSB briefing to get the latest on the crash and then back to the airport. We videoed the actual intersection on the runway between runway 2-6 and 2-2. We also interviewed a pilot who has flown in and out of the airport for 20 years. After gathering much info for tonight's show about the Sunday tragedy, we decided to go back to our original plan and air our show from New Orleans. We figured if we hustled we could get to New Orleans... and get there early enough to shoot some video for you. In sum, you can see how fluid our schedule is — it is in constant state of change.
I assume you know our great news: FOX News' Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig are free! Many of you have e-mailed me about them in the past two weeks wondering why FOX News anchors talked so rarely about their kidnapping on air (I think I did two or three reports in two weeks with our correspondents overseas. But if you noticed, I had no follow-up questions — I "stuck to the script," which meant that I let our correspondents in the region who were intimately involved with getting them released make the public statements. I let the correspondents tell what we knew.)
Because we did not wallpaper our show with discussion about Steve and Olaf, there was suspicion by some that FOX did not care. Nothing could have been further from the truth! I deliberately did not respond to those e-mails because I did not want to be coy or even lie as to the reason for the almost complete silence. There was a reason for our almost silence on the topic. You have no idea how much we care/cared... the anxiety never left one of us for one second.
Now for the reason I did not talk often about Steve and Olaf (or write about it here in the blog): FOX had a strategic plan to get them back and my talking about it on air or in this blog was not part of the plan. The last thing Steve or Olaf needed was an anchor "freelancing" about this — rather, I took the lead from those for whom I work. I trusted our management's judgment and that they knew what to do and how to handle this very dangerous situation. And now it is apparent they did know how to handle it.
I am grateful to FOX management for all that they did in handling this crisis. As an aside, it was reassuring to us to see our bosses care so much. They had many sleepless nights, round the clock hours at New York headquarters with one goal in mind: Get Steve and Olaf home! I have also been told that other news organizations helped, too. This was obviously important.
Today we are back "on the road." We expected to be back in New Orleans tonight one year after Katrina slammed the Gulf States (more than 90 thousand acres.... bigger area than all of Great Britain!) However, we took a detour yesterday afternoon. (We will be in New Orleans tomorrow.)
We are — even to our own surprise — in Lexington, Kentucky covering Sunday's plane crash. I was packed and ready to head to the airport for my flight to New Orleans when I got the call from my producer in New York telling me first to go to Kentucky. Needless to say, the following hour was spent changing flights, hotels, etc. We had much planned for our Sunday arrival in New Orleans, but it all had to be aborted.
We will spend today here in Lexington working on the tragic airline crash story and then tonight after the show or early tomorrow morning we head to New Orleans. When we leave Lexington will depend solely on transportation and weather. We know that Ernesto could disrupt some travel plans even though it is not yet near the Gulf States.
But, whether we leave tonight or tomorrow morning, Tuesday's show will originate from New Orleans. We have planned a great show for you.
I am anxious to get back to New Orleans. We have made many trips to New Orleans since Katrina. We were there in the days after Katrina hit (which none of us will ever forget!), then came back with President Bush 41, then back with President Clinton, then a December bus tour with Senators Clinton and Landrieu, Mardi Gras and probably more times that I just can't remember off the top of my heard.
I have posted some old pics from a few of our trips to show you some of the devastation (not that you could forget.) What we all saw — including you at home watching on TV — is horrifying. I posted one picture that is very difficult to view (a man who died and was just left behind in the water — posted because I wanted to give you a very direct view of what happened and nothing is more direct to me than looking at the pain of death at the hands of Katrina.)
Because I posted this tragic pic, I balanced it out with three very uplifting pictures: The military rescuing a pup from a roof and then feeding her with their MREs. The pup went home with one of the rescuers. In posting the pics today, I figured I should not focus only on the bad... although there was much bad to see.
While we think about the death and destruction, it might be worth our time to think of the amazing help, too. Many people came from all over the United States to pitch in and try to relieve some of the suffering. I watched members of our military work around the clock.
Whenever I write or talk about Hurricane Katrina, I like to give a "shout out" to the communities who stepped up to help the evacuees. I spent time in Houston right after Katrina hit and I am still astounded by what I saw. It was the most amazing outpouring of help, organization, etc. I love Houston. The citizens of Houston have much to be proud of. They truly went above and beyond and they still are doing it.
I still don't understand how Houston was able to turn the Astrodome into a "mini city" for 30,000 evacuees in hours — it was amazing! Food, clothing, shelter, phones, jobs — in short, a bit of future after losing ones' past.
Houstonians had the attitude that they could do anything and were willing to do anything… and they did!
At the end of the e-mails is an article update on the JonBenet Ramsey case. Now for some e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
PLEASE don't subject us to Katrina revisited... we are sick and tired of hearing about how neglected and abused those people were, how racial it was and all that crap. Why don't you do a special on how the Katrina "victims" have abused the hospitality shown them, i.e., Houston. How about how the "victims" abused FEMA and the money GIVEN to them? How about how the other states hit by Katrina were ignored. We are disgusted and revolted by any more "poor New Orleans" stories.
Beverly Daniel and Family
E-mail No. 2
I had a wonderful surprise yesterday that I wanted to share with you. Tomorrow we will be moving back into our home after fixing all the damage that Hurricane Wilma caused us 10 months ago. Some time ago we were so touched by your story about Catherine and her son Peter that we decided to make a donation to the hospital program that gave Peter another chance at life. Can you imagine the surprise that we found in our mailbox yesterday, a hand written note from Catherine, thanking us for our kindness. I just wanted to tell you what a remarkable women she is, not just for what she did for her son, but to share her story with all of us.
All our prayers always,
E-mail No. 3
Did you see the interview where John Mark Karr called Patsy Ramsey, "Patricia"? Now I read Patricia was his mother's name. Significant slip-up? Also what has become of his belongings in Thailand? Has anyone searched his apartment?
E-mail No. 4
I am writing you because I know you read your e-mails. I awoke this morning to this sad disaster. But to make this short there is a controversy over the runway 26 and 22. I was a radio dispatcher for many years. When we would say 2 or 6 on the radio we were most likely be asked to repeat because the officer did not know if we said 2 or 6. I am 51 now and it has always puzzled me. They do not sound alike but coming over the radio the officers said they just were not clear if we said 2 or 6.
E-mail No. 5
To Whom It May Concern:
FOX News Channel is on 24/7 in my home and via satellite radio in my vehicle. I am extremely disturbed, however, in your repeated use of the words "grim" and "grisly" when describing scenes such as the plane crash today in Kentucky. It is cheap and exploitive. More importantly it's disrespectful to the victims and extremely hurtful to their grieving families. The fact that the victims likely burned to death is sensational enough it its own rite and does not require embellishment by Fox News. I have known less respectable news outlets to have enough class to ban the use of those terms. Why not FOX?
If your colleague Steve Centanni (God forbid) were beheaded by his kidnapers, would you have publicly described the scene as "grim" or "grisly"? I doubt it. I have been a firefighter/paramedic and flight medic for almost 20 years and have had friends die in aircraft crashes. I've seen all the grim and grisly scenes you can imagine and then some. But never once have I felt the need to use those terms to describe the sad and painful incidents.
Please consider banning these disturbing and hurtful words from your otherwise excellent reporting. You should be the leader when it comes to ethical practices in the media.
Thomas A. Stubblefield
Finally, here is an article that you might want to read: Click here for an update on the John Mark Karr/JonBenet Ramsey story.
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