On this Sunday, at least, it’s not “Meet the Press.”
NBC News said it would make the rare move of preempting its long-running Sunday public-affairs program to accommodate “wall to wall’ coverage of Hurricane Irma’s path through Florida and the impact of its onslaught on the continental United States. CBS News said it would cut “Face the Nation” in half, while ABC News announced that it would weave its “This Week” into its overall coverage during the day and would air a special edition of “20/20” in the early evening.
The storm, bringing with it winds of 120 miles per hour or more, had begun to reach the Florida Keys Saturday night, and was expected to force one of the biggest mass evacuations in recent history. Like Hurricane Harvey, which lashed Houston and parts of Texas just days ago, its effects are predicted to be massive and far-reaching, and its impact on the region’s economy could be felt for years.
Little wonder then, that the nation’s most-watched outlets are reworking their offerings. Sundays are normally a quieter time on TV, with scaled-down local news, weekend versions of national news shows and political talk being the order of the day – along with a few hours farmed out by affiliates to religious broadcasters. On Sunday, that will not be the case. NBC, CBS and ABC will look a lot like they do on weekdays, with special broadcasts of “Today,” “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning” being readied for early viewers who want to get the latest news on the storm’s progress.
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos looks to have one of the most challenging schedules for the day. ABC said Stephanopoulos would lead coverage from New York starting at 6 a.m. with “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir on the ground in Florida. The network intends to air live coverage until noon, with Stephanopoulos anchoring a special report at 6 a.m, broadcasts of “Good Morning America” that will run between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., and broadcasts of “This Week” that will run between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. and noon. Later that evening, ABC intends to air a 7 p.m. broadcast of “20/20,” with Stephanopoulos and Elizabeth Vargas anchoring from New York and Muir leading coverage in the storm zone.
Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, normally accustomed to appearing on NBC Monday through Friday, will co-anchor “Today” on Sunday starting at 6 a.m. They will be joined by Willie Geist, who typically hosts Sunday’s broadcast of the program, and Al Roker, who will be covering events from Florida, along with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, who is also on the scene. NBC News said it intends to broadcast special coverage throughout Sunday.
On CBS, the regular “CBS This Morning” trio – Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell – will hold forth on CBS starting at 6 a.m. – an hour earlier than the norm. The network intends to air “CBS This Morning” as usual, but cut “Face the Nation” to just 30 minutes in order to accommodate a special report at 11 a.m. anchored by Anthony Mason in New York and Jeff Glor, who is on the ground in Tampa.