Egypt coverage creates unforgettable daytime TV

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Each of the broadcast networks interrupted regular daytime programming for special reports within five minutes. NBC’s Brian Williams was the only one of the top three anchors on duty (David Muir was on for Diane Sawyer for ABC; Jeff Glor for Katie Couric on CBS) and the experience showed. He was quickest to catch the historic import of the moment and the extraordinary nature of the response, pausing for 15 seconds and suggesting viewers simply listen.

As Ron Allen delivered a report from Tahrir Square, a man leaned into his microphone. “I am so happy,” the man said, adding “Mubarak, you have ugly face.”

The moment illustrated how everyday Egyptians, many of them reluctant to speak to journalists for the past two weeks, or reluctant to be seen criticizing Mubarak, suddenly changed and crowded around reporters, hoping for a chance to deliver their opinions.

“This is what freedom sounds like,” Allen said. “It’s the only way I can describe it.”

Muir and Christiane Amanpour were much more cautious in their initial ABC report, concentrating on questions of how the succession would work. It didn’t help that on-scene correspondent Jim Sciutto’s connection initially cut off (“Can you hear me, New York?” he said). Terry Moran seemed to snap everyone to attention.

“It is astonishing,” he said. “The news hit this crowd like an enormous wave.”

At CBS, on-scene reporter Elizabeth Palmer noted how the day brought many uncertainties with it, but Egyptians were intent on celebrating their achievement.

Al Jazeera’s English network, little seen in the U.S. but available on the Internet, displayed the advantage of its staffing throughout the Arab world. Al Jazeera aired pictures from Alexandria when U.S.-based networks had nothing beyond Cairo. Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin struggled slightly to keep emotions in check when asked by his anchors what he felt personally about the moment.

“I never thought I would live to see a day like this,” Mohyeldin said.

On Fox, anchor Megyn Kelly expressed worry about some of what she was seeing, noting that many people in Israel were worried about what a new Egyptian government would mean and whether it would be an opening to power for Muslim extremists.

“Rather than the negativity,” commentator Alan Colmes told her, “let’s support this.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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