TV News Scrambles To Cover Orlando Shooting Tragedy

Orlando Shooting TV Coverage media
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

The nation’s TV-news outlets mobilized to cover a tragedy in Orlando in which a shooter opened fire in a nightclub catering to LGBT customers, killing what is estimated to be about 50 people.

Lester Holt, Matt Lauer Scott Pelley, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon and Bill Hemmer were among the high-visibility anchors who were dispatched  to Orlando to provide on-the-scene coverage of the mass murder and its aftermath, a signal of the intense interest in an incident which authorities have suggested has terrorist undertones.

NBC planned to devote a new “Dateline” to coverage of the event Sunday and to have Lester Holt anchor Sunday’s “NBC Nightly News” from Orlando. Matt Lauer is expected to anchor “Today” from Orlando Monday morning, NBC News said. CBS said Scott Pelley, Charlie Rose and Gayle King and Josh Elliott would all travel to Orlando to anchor “CBS Evening News,” “CBS This Morning” and the CBSN feed from Orlando. On Sunday night, “60 Minutes” contained a segment with the latest updates on the story. ABC planned to run a special hour of “20/20” on Sunday evening and dispatched “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir to anchor coverage from Orlando for Sunday and Monday.

Many of the networks have covered the horrific incident since early Sunday. MSNBC, for example, said its coverage began at 4:30 a.m. Eastern. Chris Jansing and Alex Witt anchored coverage in the late morning and early afternoon on the NBCUniversal-owned outlet until making way for Tamron Hall at 2 p.m., then Brian Williams at 3:50. He was expected to continue to hold forth on MSNBC through the evening.

Fox News Channel pre-empted regular programming Sunday morning, giving the anchor reins to Bret Baier at 11 a.m., rather than running the regularly scheduled program at that time, “MediaBuzz,” a media-analysis program hosted by Howard Kurtz. At CNN, Jake Tapper devoted his political-talk program, “State of the Union,” to coverage of the incident, interviewing national-security analysts and Rep. Pete King, among others. Tapper continued to anchor coverage into the early afternoon.

Scott Pelley anchored CBS and CBSN, CBS’ live streaming-video news feed, in the late morning. Willie Geist, normally on NBC’s air Sunday to anchor “Sunday Today,” led an NBC News special report that started at 10:16 a.m. eastern and led rolling coverage that continued in the late morning and early afternoon. ABC News also broke into programming Sunday morning to cover the incident.

Most of the cable networks have given way to wall-to-wall coverage, and clearly planned to devote the bulk of their coverage to Orlando heading into Monday.  Fox News said Bill Hemmer and Greta Van Susteren were expected to anchor live from the scene on Monday to report on the most current developments. ABC said “Good Morning America” will cover the aftermath. with George Stephanopoulos and Amy Robach expected to be on the ground in Orlando on Monday June 13. NBC said Matt Lauer would be in Orlando to anchor coverage for “Today.”

[Updated 5:06 PM PT]