Baby Boomers — my generation — bookmark their lives by the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of John F. Kennedy. Where were you? How'd you find out? For those in their teens and twenties, that watermark date is Sept. 11, 2001 — 9/11 — a sunny, humming Indian summer morning in New York and Virginia. Americans who weren't in New York City, Washington or Shanksville can't really share the experience of those of us who were. It was, simply put, the Day that Changed America.
Never was I so proud to work for FOX. As the story kept growing — one plane, then two, into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon attack, a plane off the radar and headed who knew where? — our phones clanged constantly with calls from employees telling — not asking, but telling — us they were on the way.
Owen Moogan, a producer for "The FOX Report," lived just across from the Twin Towers. I will never forget his emotion-choked voice on the phone as he described the Dante-esque scene from his building's rooftop. Rick Leventhal nearly died trying to escape from the tumbling tons of tower when they collapsed. He and a cameraman sealed themselves in a FOX News van, and they looked like they'd rolled in a fireplace when next we saw them.
Brit Hume, ever calm and collected, imparted to a bewildered country a dry summation of what we knew, what we feared, and the difference between the two.
For the record, it’s not just on-air reporters who make TV news work. The FOX News truck, parked on Church Street between Duane and Reade, became a home-in-hell for the New York bureau, which was all-hands-on-deck for the cataclysm. Producers Carlos Van Meek, Kendall Gastelu, Ian Rafferty, Anne Woolsey and Katie Sargent teamed with shooters like Pat Butler, Don Collopy, Scott Wilder and Mike Fagan to ensure viewers saw the devastation in all its ghastly reality.
Jon Scott, anchoring at the time of the attacks, was the first reporter to wonder, on air, if Usama bin Laden was behind the terrorist strikes. We learned in rapid order that he was, and what he had intended to do. And, in the days that followed, we saw repeated examples of journalistic heroism that should silence those who accuse the media of reporting from press releases.
Covering the U.S. push into Afghanistan was like reporting on a race between two ants in a black sack. We knew nothing! Who could get into that mountainous, backward land? It turned out Steve Harrigan was there, and willing to work for FOX. We hired him by satellite phone and turned him loose on the Taliban. Steve became the iconic war correspondent of his age, routinely ignoring his own safety to get closer to the story.
There was other news in 2001, of course: Chandra Levy disappeared, Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh was executed, and a U.S. military plane was held by China for 11 days. But when we think of that year, only one event shines through our memories. And FOX was there. It was the end of the age before the War on Terror and the beginning of our ascendance into news dominance.
John Moody serves as the Senior Vice President, News Editorial for FOX News. He is responsible for both the design and editorial direction of FOX News Channel and oversees all story content for FOX News.
John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News. A former Rome bureau chief for Time magazine, he is the author of four books including "Pope John Paul II : Biography."