Mea Culpa

Dear Viewers,

Here is  my nightmare e mail -- nightmare because the viewer is right, we handled this poorly.  First the e-mail (and it was not the only one on the topic):

What happened to the missing CA woman named Michelle Johnson??? I
waited to the end of your show tonight and as you mentioned this story I
thought to myself "I wonder what would happen if she did a story on
someone and they called in to say they were not missing before the story
was told on the show." Then as it turned time for your show to be
finished and you showed the Ohio sniper info again I realized you were
not going to talk about this missing CA woman. How come? Otherwise I
love your show and don't miss it EVER. Tape it if I am not going to be

Now some background and an explanation. Throughout our show on Tuesday night we "teased" that we were going to do a segment on a missing California woman.  The story is chilling and we wanted to do it in order to help find her. (Like with the Ohio highway sniper, lots of media attention can often help solve a case.) As of the time I am writing this note, she is still missing and the worst is feared (she likely was abducted and may be serious injured or dead based on the clues.) The woman who wrote the e mail watched our show and awaited this segment. It was planned for our last segment, the "G block." As I took us out of the "F block," I further teased this segment and said that it would be coming up next.

When the cameras stopped rolling, and as we were in commercial break, my NY based line producer told me for the first time that we had "lost" our guest for that segment. We were supposed to have, by phone, the detective who is in charge of the investigation.  Now we had no one to tell the story.  I faced the risk of staring vacantly into the camera like a deer in headlights. This is not my ideal scene. But, rather than come back in the "G block" and explain what happened -- this IS live tv -- I launched into a quick update on the Ohio highway sniper. If I had had more time to think about it  -- commercial breaks are short -- and if I had used better judgment, we would have explained this lost guest problem to the viewers. I hope next time I handle this better.


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