David Muir began his newscast on June 8 dramatically: “As we come on the air tonight,” he said, “the deadly terror attack.”
Muir was saying—as quoted in ABC’s transcript—that at the very moment he was going on the air, at 6:30 p.m. ET, an attack [in Tel Aviv, Israel,] was starting. The terror attack? Muir, the anchor of ABC’s “World News Tonight,” should have said “a terror attack.” The is correct when talking about something already known to the listener or that has been mentioned before.
On the next night, June 9, Muir—according to an ABC transcript—repeated his previous night’s assertion that his going on the air coincided with the attack’s starting:
“Overseas tonight and to Israel, now cracking down after that terror attack in Tel Aviv as we came on the air last night here.” Huh? Here? He was telling us again that when the attack was getting under way, he was going on the air. Sounded too good to be true. And in the spirit of that old song, I can’t take my eyes off him.
Yes, I became suspicious, so I poked around on the internet. Sure enough, I found that on June 8, more than 3 hours before Muir went on the air, CNN broadcast the story. At 3:14 p.m., a CNN announcer said, “This is CNN breaking news.” And an anchor immediately began, “All right [odd start], breaking news here out of Tel Aviv, [news comes from a place, not out of a place] where at least nine people have been wounded….” See, sometimes, when CNN calls something breaking news, the news is breaking.
At 3:16 p.m., an Israeli police spokesman told CNN on camera that two people had been
arrested—3 1/4 hours before Muir went on the air. By 3:30 p.m. ET or so, the AP, Bloomberg, and other sources reported the attack. Which means Muir had been making up stuff. Thus, he showed again that he is indeed a make-up artist.
And, once again, we got the goods on the guy.
Mervin Block is the author of Writing Broadcast News Shorter, Sharper, Stronger: A Professional Handbook.
© Mervin Block 2016
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“Rewriting Network News” and “Writing News for TV and Radio”
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