Hero flier bails on NBC for CBS


The booking war among the networks erupted anew with the news that hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger will tell his story on CBS' "60 Minutes" instead of NBC's "Today."

Except for remarks Saturday in his hometown of Danville, Calif., the public hasn't yet heard from the US Airways captain who safely landed a full Airbus A320 in the Hudson River after both engines went out as he was departing New York's LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 15. NBC said two days later that it had secured the first interview with Sullenberger, which would take place on "Today."

After promoting the interview with co-host Matt Lauer, "Today" had to backtrack. It said Jan. 19 that the interview was postponed. Without giving a reason, it said the pilots union wanted to give the NTSB investigation a little more time before allowing Sullenberger to speak. He and the other four crewmembers had spoken with NTSB investigators several days earlier.

NBC said at the time that it had been promised the interview when Sullenberger did talk. But instead, "60 Minutes" and other CBS News outlets grabbed for the first interview. The pilot will be interviewed by Katie Couric, who anchors "CBS Evening News," contributes to "60 Minutes" and is Lauer's former co-host. Sullenberger and the entire crew will be interviewed for a "60 Minutes" episode Feb. 8.

It wasn't immediately clear why the interview changed networks, though if the decision was made based on ratings, "60 Minutes" would be the best bet.

CBS wasn't talking about the circumstances, but NBC was hopping mad Friday.

"What Capt. Sullenberger did in the cockpit on Flight 1549 was heroic and admirable. Unfortunately, people close to him have not acted nearly as admirably over the past few days," NBC said. "They gave us their word and then broke their commitment. We wish Capt. Sullenberger the best." (partialdiff)