ABC, NBC and CBS broke into daytime programming along with various Fox affiliates just before 2:45 p.m. Eastern time to transmit recorded remarks by President Barack Obama on the looming crisis in Syria – a signal that the situation is growing more serious and growing in importance to more U.S. TV viewers.
In the remarks, the President told White House pool reporters that he had yet to make a decision on what action to take regarding Syria, which his administration believes has used chemical weapons on its own people. The President stated he did not anticipate a ground war, but rather a limited action with a defined window.
CBS News tapped regular evening anchor Scott Pelley, while NBC featured Lester Holt and ABC relied on David Muir. Regular NBC anchor Brian Williams has been on leave several weeks due to knee-replacement surgery
NBC News was first to leave the air, around 2:51 p.m., while CBS and ABC offered several more minutes of comment and analysis after the President’s remarks had been played. On CBS, Pelley turned to reporter Elizabeth Palmer, who he billed as “the only network reporter inside Damascus.” At ABC, Muir talked not only to ABC White House correspondent Jim Avila as well as chief foreign correspondnet Terry Moran, who was situated in Beirut.
CBS News left the air at about 2:53 p.m. Eastern, while ABC returned to regualr programming after an advertising break that began at about 2:55 p.m.
Cable-news networks all joined the fray. In the minutes before tape of the President’s remarks became available, both Fox News and CNN used graphics to alert viewers that they would soon broadcast the video. MSNBC, CNN and Fox News continued to cover the remarks into the 3 p.m. hour.