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First, a quick note: The show will air from New York City Wednesday night. I move around so much it must seem like I am running away from creditors!
Second, a note from the Kennedy Space Center (search) from my colleague Thom Bird who spearheaded our programming for the shuttle launch: He e-mailed me this note Tuesday not long after the launch:
E-mail No. 1
Dateline: Kennedy Space Center
Because of the earlier launch time for Discovery (search) this morning, everyone was up before the crack of dawn to get to our workspace at KSC. Our ace crew was ahead of me by 30 minutes or so. I was playing chauffer to Jon Scott, the anchor for FNC's coverage, and Tom Jones, the former astronaut and FOX News contributor. Tom was on schedule… Jon, however was not, and I blame him for not being able to stop for coffee on the way.
The drive north from our Cocoa Beach hotel was cool. We could see the giant spotlights aimed at Discovery shooting into the dark sky, kind of like the bat signal. There were a bunch of folks already on the sides of the roads in their family campers... still sleeping, I might add. We arrived at the first security stop, a sports facility where all our cars were searched. It was also the point where foreign media members were put on their own special bus to be taken into KSC. We had three more security stops before I found one of the last parking spaces in the better lot. The weather was good, cool. I stood for a moment to stare at the shuttle sitting off in the distance. I had a good feeling.
With a little over five hours to go before launch, the FOX team was in action. Rick Leventhal and his producer, Ian Rafferty, were doing hits for "FOX & Friends," Nancy Harmeyer, our Miami bureau chief, was digging for the latest shuttle news, our best-in-the-biz camera, audio and lighting crews were fine tuning the set. Our crack engineers were making sure everything was up and running... everything except for my intercom to New York, but I'll leave that alone for now because I like them. Bahman, our head director and I climbed the stairs to the set. We had a great view of the shuttle... and an even better view of Miles and his cramped little space. For such a big space nut, you'd think CNN would give the poor guy a little wiggle room... maybe they used the cash for his new pricey digs in Manhattan?
All systems were “go” for Discovery... the astronauts were strapped in, the fuel sensors tested fine and the big clock in the field was counting down. And even better, our on-screen clock was right on. As the clock hit three minutes and counting I ran out of our trailer back to the set to watch. The fire from the rockets was blinding bright. We felt the roar and bursts and bangs. All I can say is... wow!
Executive Producer, FOX News
News Specials & Events
Hours after I received Thom's e-mail from the shuttle launch, I received an e-mail from another colleague who was at the launch participating in our coverage. My colleague's name is Shayla Bezdrob. I have posted her e-mail below (E-mail No. 8.) Shayla also e-mailed me many, many, many amazing pictures from the launch. The pics are posted today and you will love them. Click on the link in the photo box above to check out her photo essay. She took them with a point and shoot!! (When we were in California covering the Jackson verdict I talked Shayla into the point and shoot camera.)
I have also posted video today. Do you wonder what guests at FOX D.C. see when they arrive for a guest appearance? Click on the link in the video box above and you can take the tour. It was edited by intern Aliza Kempner. By the way, don't blame her for the music — she was not give many choices. We have a library of music we can use and this was the best in the lot we were given.
Now for your e-mails:
E-mail No. 2
My Theory: Van der Sloot (search) and the brothers were in trouble from gambling debts and offered Natalee for payment. Natalee was shipped off to another country. The boys are not telling the truth because they fear their families will be harmed (killed) if the truth is told.
E-mail No. 3
I am a loyal viewer of your show. I watch every night. I understand the pain and the anguish that this poor family is going through. I feel that way too much of the show is being spent on this story. Please balance this story with the other news that is occurring.
ANSWER: Joe, you raise a good point. Each day we struggle with the questions of "how much?" and "how much it too much?" and "how much is not enough?" The first night we reported on Natalee Holloway's disappearance we had no idea we would be doing it the next night nor weeks later as we are. We can't see into the future and had no idea if Natalee would show up within 24 hours. Programming in cable news is very fluid... we program the day of the show and sometimes, with breaking news, we program DURING the show.
FOX has 24/7 programming and covers many, many, many topics each week, so I am not worried if from time to time we — on our show — are thought to spend too much time on one topic. I assume the other shows are focusing on other topics (and, of course, some of the topics we cover.)
Our show does spend a great deal of time on Natalee's disappearance but it makes sense for me to do it with my background and the fact that I was there and now know many of the people there involved in the story. This does not mean that I should spend all my time on it and I would like to cover other topics — but we got deep into this story and I would like to complete it for the viewers. I just don't know when that point could be... it could be tonight or weeks from now.
The world is so dynamic that events drive programming — when the bombing in London occurred FOX immediately pulled me out of Aruba since we had no idea where the story was headed... we even feared terrorism in the USA and we wanted to be prepared to cover everything. I had no idea when I got pulled out of Aruba that morning that I would be back... or that I would be returning to the Natalee Holloway story soon. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes on cable news stories (e.g. We are forever calling for updates on stories we have covered like the death of Federal Prosecutor Jonathan Luna... but alas, no news.)
I can't guarantee perfect programming or perfect balance... but I can guarantee that I will think about it every day and try and make wise, not perfect, decisions. I use stories like Natalee's disappearance to do many things — besides satisfying the underlying curiosity of all of us, I use it to learn and educate. I learn much following investigations (e.g. I did not know anything about ground penetration radar before this disappearance.) I hope our show teaches you things, too. There is also a big part of me that would like to help this family — and the many other families who I come in close contact with when I cover a story intensively. I know that the media — and its attention — gives families power to force hard work by authorities on investigations. I regret that we can't do this for very family.
E-mail No. 4
I will sign my name.
I agree, you are only covering this kid because it is a blonde from Alabama. Since you never have responded to anything I send regarding the missing Americans in Mexico, it only furthers this belief. Your show is biased.
Further, I don’t know why people don’t grasp that this poor girl was probably sold. Either that or she is in the deep water somewhere — it is an island. Why would you bury a person on an island? The water will destroy the evidence and though they may find the body, there won’t be any conclusive evidence left that can tie the perp to the crime. That is what the sad part is. I think those boys were responsible some how, but I don’t think it will be provable when she is found. However, your coverage is biased. Your time spend on this detracts people from important issues like North Korea, Iran and China and gives people the false sense that American’s will be found when missing in the rest of the world. It is has been clear that isn’t the case since the Iran hostage incident and you give a false sense that we should be or will be. You leave the country, and you take your chances, just like going to the ATM in West Baltimore at 3 a.m.
E-mail No. 5
As a divorced mother, I find it very difficult to be in the vicinity of my ex-husband for very long at a time. How do Beth Twitty and David Holloway handle this situation? Is there any problem with this situation and how do the new spouses handle this? It seems as if Mr. Twitty gets more say in this problem.
Keep up your good reporting. I watch nightly.
ANSWER: Karen, I don't know the answer. My guesses include the following: 1) The divorce was a long time ago and it is "water under the bridge;" or 2) the divorce was "friendly" and never hostile; or 3) in this very important time in their lives, they have agreed to "bury the hatchet." But, as noted, these are merely guesses and I have not asked either of them. There are many different kinds of divorces. I know many men and women who have gone through the experience about which you hint. Some marriages are so bad that it is a good idea if each spouse moves on... of course, if there are children, other issues arise.
E-mail No. 6
We are all entitled to our personal opinion. I told you before, I was not particularly fond of you at the beginning but the way you have handled yourself lately, especially re: Holloway situation, has proved me wrong. You are calm and direct and not abusive. You have been very professional without letting your personal feelings interfere with the coverage. To answer a previous writer, the Holloway mother is just plain persistent. I am sure various people have sent her money to help her in her quest. Her diligence is special as she is not just walking away. We all need to do this in our lives. More of us need to demand answers of our government, officials, laws etc. We need to insist on more from the powers that think we are just lemmings. Greta, you have become of fresh air in reporting. I am tired of the bandbox most reporters have gotten on. Just give me the facts and allow me to make my own decisions.
Sterling Heights, MI
E-mail No. 7
I read your blog every day and watch your show every night... keep up the good work! I just have one question that really bugs me a lot... how in the world do all of the people that swear that they are never going to watch FOX News again still know EVERYTHING that is said and done on your show every night?
E-mail No. 8 — This is an e-mail I received Tuesday from my colleague Shayla Bezdrob who was at the shuttle launch. She is the photographer of the pics posted today, too:
The launch was one of THE most amazing things I've ever seen.
Five minutes to launch... everybody is about three miles from the shuttle and here by the Media Center, or what I like to call "Satellite Village" for all it's satellite trucks. Even the closeout crew — the guys who strap the astronauts in and essentially "lock the doors" were here. The Discovery crew was alone, yet with eyes of the world looking at them. The final minutes ticked down on the clock.
Two minutes to go. We all climbed the two-story set, digital cameras ready to go. Thirty seconds before liftoff, my eyes were darting up and down... back and forth from the countdown clock to the shuttle, spending no more then a second or two on each, not wanting to miss anything.
Ten seconds to the launch. We all held our breaths: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 , 4, 3, 2, 1! Discovery blasted upwards... the cheering started, people were clapping, whistling. All eyes were glued to the sky, heads tilting backwards. I did one of those tight-fisted-wrists-twisting cheers usually reserved for those cheesy sporting events (I have no idea where that came from.) The smoke and dust shot sideways as Discovery blasted upward. Within seconds its golden tail was starting to look like a wide brush stroke, then it got thinner, then very quickly it became a dot. And just like that — it was gone! Completely out of reach. The only reminder of its route was the smoky trail spiraling into the air. The dust on the ground was starting to settle. That was it! The long awaited launch... in about eight and a half minutes the shuttle reached the orbit. That's faster then taking the subway from Union Square to Rockefeller Center!
The sound was incredible. It was not a like thunder, but it was similar. It was not a roar; it had staying power. It's not like starting up a car. It is all those things and so much more. It's by no means deafening. It's strangely satisfying. Definitely powerful.
E-mail No. 9
Who is making the decision to show the continuous live video from the pond being drained? What is going to happen if that poor girl is stuck in the muck and she is revealed as "The whole world is watching"?
ANSWER: Of course we would not show that if indeed Natalie were found. As an aside, the cameras were not close enough and it was dark so we were never at risk of such a picture.
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