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All three network morning shows devoted a significant portion of their broadcasts on Friday morning to Thursday’s Malaysia Airlines crash over Ukraine.
While the main anchors for Good Morning America, Today and CBS This Morning remained in their respective studios, ABC, NBC and CBS featured reports from correspondents on the scene in Ukraine, Kuala Lumpur (the destination of flight MH17) and Amsterdam (where the plane took off).
All three shows broadcast video footage and photos of the crash scene but didn’t include images of the bodies of the 298 passengers onboard, with NBC’s Keir Simmons noting that the corpses were too disturbing to show. But the passengers’ passports and luggage was shown along with cellphone videos of the crash and reports from local witnesses. All three shows also aired computer simulations of the the plane’s route and crash, overlaid on a map in some cases.
On Today, Keir Simmons reported from Ukraine, noting that the tragedy was the deadliest aviation incident since 9/11 and occurred over “one of the most volatile regions on the globe.” He also pointed out that the number of passengers was initially reported to be lower than it actually was, as some of the fliers had infants on their laps who hadn’t been counted.
Today also spoke, via phone, to freelance journalist Noah Sneider who reported what he saw at the crash scene. On CBS, they aired the last known photo of the plane in one piece before the crash.
All three shows also reported on the question of who fired the missile and how investigators could determine that, bringing in other correspondents and experts. They all also aired audio believed to be of the rebels who shot down the plane after they realized what they’d done.
On GMA, ABC News’ chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross joined the show from its New York studio, saying that more details were expected later today from U.S. intelligence agencies about the “who” and “what” of this story. ABC News’ Martha Raddatz also reported from Washington on who U.S. officials believe is responsible for firing the missile. On ABC, George Stephanopoulos also spoke to ABC News aviation consultant Stephen Ganyard, who said that although its not yet clear who has custody of the black boxes and what they contain, it’s unlikely they’ll offer many clues. Ganyard said the real key will be to look at the forensic evidence on the skin of the aircraft, which will allow the U.S. to determine the type of missile that hit the plane.
On Today, Andrea Mitchell reported on the political and diplomatic implications of the crash, airing comments from Russian president Vladimir Putin and U.S. lawmakers. One of NBC’s security analysts also spoke to Savannah Guthrie about what they know about the missile and what sort of response the U.S. and NATO are expected to take.
On CBS This Morning, security correspondent Bob Orr reported from Washington with more on what the U.S. government knows about who fired the missile and why. They also spoke to former NTSB head Mark Rosen and former deputy CIA director Mark Morrell about the investigation into the crash.
In regard to the passengers, all of the shows aired footage of grief-stricken relatives at airports in Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur, waiting to hear what happened to their loved ones. In terms of specific passengers, they all noted that as many as 108 AIDS activists, researchers and health workers were onboard, headed to a conference in Australia.
GMA noted that relatives of an ABC News family were among the victims and aired audio from Sarah Moonen, who was bumped from the disastrous flight at the last minute, while two of her friends were not. “I felt bad for feeling good that my family hadn’t been ruined and that my brother was alive,” she said. GMA also reported that an Australian family was affected by both Malaysian Airlines tragedies in recent months.
On Today, Katy Tur reported from outside the airport in Amsterdam, explaining that 173 of the 298 passengers onboard were from the Netherlands. She also reported on local tributes to and victims of the crash, including talking to those who knew and visited the flower shop of the man who posted an eerie Facebook photo of the plane before it took off, which has since gone viral. NBC also spoke to passengers set to board Friday’s flight MH17 and one who was supposed to be on yesterday’s flight but missed it, with the latter saying she was shaking and felt like she had been given a second chance.
On CBS, Seth Doane reported from Kuala Lumpur about how family members and next of kin have been coming to the airport searching for information, but so far, relatives of the victims are being cordoned off and kept to one side of the departure lounge, not allowed to talk to the press.
Both GMA and CBS This Morning explored the business impact to Malaysia Airlines of having two aircrafts involved in tragedies in only a few months.
On CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose also aired part of his interview with Hillary Clinton from his PBS program on Thursday night, in which she talked about how the U.S. and the international community should respond to the tragedy. On GMA, they aired a segment about how parents could talk to their children about the tragedy.
All three shows devoted far more time to the Malaysia Airlines crash than the fighting in Gaza, but that also received coverage Friday morning. GMA, Today and CBS This Morning all aired reports from correspondents sporting bulletproof vests in Gaza City. They all said they heard strikes while on the air, with CBS’ Holly Williams adding that the CBS news team hasn’t seen any Israeli troops, calling the area “a virtual ghost town.” The morning shows also aired footage of the attacks overnight and soldiers preparing to fight.
On Good Morning America, Alex Marquardt reported from a house where a family taking refuge was hit by a tank shell, which killed three people including two children. Marquardt’s team also spoke to a man who lost his brother and son but doesn’t want a cease-fire.
NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel reported for Today. Watch video of the networks’ coverage of the attacks in Gaza below.
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