On February 1, 2003, seven astronauts on board Space Shuttle Columbia died during re-entry as they returned to Earth from the STS-107 mission. Friday was the 10th anniversary of the disaster, but none of the Big Three networks morning newscasts marked this somber occasion.
ABC's Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and NBC's Today understandably devoted considerable broadcast time to the upcoming Super Bowl on Sunday. However, this coverage contained segments to frivolous, celebrity-driven stories that could have been whittled down to air even a mere brief on the anniversary of the tragedy. Here are examples from each morning show:
-Today spotlighted the latest controversial Super Bowl ad from GoDaddy.com during back-to-back segments at 7:30 am Eastern. Anchors Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer brought on the two stars of the ad, model Bar Refaeli and actor Jesse Heiman, on for an interview. The NBC show's total coverage on the ad lasted 7 minutes, 10 seconds.
-Good Morning America devoted over 4 minutes to the controversy over singer Beyonce's lip-synced performance of the Star-Spangled Banner at President Obama's second inauguration, and her upcoming halftime concert at the Super Bowl.
-CBS This Morning devoted the most amount of coverage to the Super Bowl, as their network will be airing the big game. However, the morning show set aside 35 seconds of air time for briefs on pre-Super Bowl "trash talk" between the San Francisco Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony, and to whether San Francicso 49ers fans or Baltimore Ravens were better tippers.
Anchor Charlie Rose noted how the New Orleans Times-Piacyune reported on "whether San Francisco [49ers] fans or Baltimore [Ravens] fans are the best tippers. Dancers and managers in local strip clubs say 49er fans are expected to outspend Raven backers because Californians have more money." Did we really need to know that?
By contrast, 24-hour cable networks CNN and Fox News did point out the Columbia anniversary later on Friday morning. However, as of 2 pm Eastern on Friday, MSNBC has yet to devote air any news brief or segment to the story.