- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2001

FROM COMBINED DISPATCHES
Americans nationwide watched the horrific scenes of devastation unfold on cable and network television.
Networks interrupted morning programming shortly after 9 a.m. with the news that a plane had crashed into one of World Trade Center towers.
As the morning went on, one devastating scene after another filled the airwaves. With cameras fixed on the smoking skyscraper, television caught the second plane crashing into the other tower. Later, both towers collapsed.
Then came the chaotic aftermath of the blast at the Pentagon and the subsequent collapse of both of the World Trade Center towers.
As the terror spread, CNN showed a split-screen view of the smoking World Trade Center and the Pentagon, where smoke billowed from another plane crash.
Reports spread as fast as television could detail them — planes grounded across the country, the White House evacuated, an apparent explosion on Capitol Hill — while commentators tried to keep calm.
"This may be one of the worst tragedies ever to strike this country," said MSNBC's John Siegenthaler.
Rose Arce, a producer from CNN, reported people jumping from the World Trade Center and described the chaos gripping lower Manhattan.
Cameras then caught the collapse of both of the twin towers, showing white smoke billowing throughout the streets of lower Manhattan. A shaken Ashleigh Banfield, reporting on MSNBC, described debris showering around.
"Oh, my God," a breathless Ms. Banfield said. "It is just unbelievable."
On CNN, broadcasters were silent as the second tower collapsed in a column of smoke.
"There are no words to describe this," the newscaster said.
C-SPAN took phone calls from shaken citizens.
One caller from California said: "This is a sign to America: We think we are the strongest country and they hit us; they knew where to hit us."
In Washington, affiliates scrambled as the story became a local one in the aftermath of the Pentagon explosion. News of school closings, building evacuations and road closings scrolled across the screen as images of helicopters flying over the District and frightened workers fleeing federal buildings were broadcast.
Channels 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 kept viewers apprised of the situation at the Pentagon, the State Department and at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington,where many of the injured from the Pentagon were taken.
Many eyewitnesses gave accounts of the Pentagon disaster to local stations.
"We felt the building shake," one witness said. "We could tell it wasn't a fire drill."
Several Air Force fighter jets could be seen and heard flying over the capital as people streamed out of the city on increasingly clogged streets.
By 11 a.m., much of the broadcast activity turned to analysis, with military and security experts discussing how such a vicious attack could take the United States by surprise.
"We've known for some time that something like this could happen," former NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark said on one network. "Obviously, we didn't do enough."


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