A Powerful, Heart-Wrenching Cable News Option: MSNBC’s 9/11 Replay

nbc_9-11aBeginning at 9amET this morning, and concluding at Noon, MSNBC looked like NBC from eight years ago.

As they have for the past four years, MSNBC replayed the heart-wrenching, raw broadcast of the extended Today show from September 11, 2001. Despite the emotions it surely will elicit, it’s a piece of history well worth watching.

Our boss here, Dan Abrams, said on Twitter this morning he was behind the decision to air the unedited broadcast back in 2006, and noted the reaction on Twitter has been very mixed.

MSNBC spokesperson Jeremy Gaines tells Mediaite, “We believe it’s important to take a few hours every year and recall the events that changed this nation and the world.”

I agree – and for those who don’t, you can watch CNN and Fox News, which are airing tributes and reaction from around the country interspersed with other news. Or something else entirely.

But if you did tune into MSNBC, you saw Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer reacting and reporting in real time about the horrendous event as it unfolded. (The MSNBC coverage was briefly interrupted around 10:30amET for a report on the scare over the coast guard exercise.)

nbc_9-11cThe broadcast shows the range of emotions that came from those who reported the news and those who lived through the event. “These pictures are beyond belief,” said Couric as smoke billowed from both towers.

“This footage we’re seeing right now is showing the damage is so severe,” said Lauer, after one tower collapsed.

Then there was this from Brokaw, summing up the events even before the full tragedy could be digested:

The ripple effect continues this morning, as we all try to adjust psychologically and intellectually to what we are witnessing here. It is difficult to comprehend, but this country, the strongest country in the world has been the target of a major coordinated terrorist attack. And the end is not over yet even if its confirmed to just these three targets. The ripple effect goes on.

Eight years later, the broadcast proves two things. On one hand, it serves as a powerful historical record of the event. NBC’s broadcast could have been ABC’s, or Fox News’ or Howard Stern’s. Each provide a window into the American experience, as defined from the moment the world changed forever. But it also shows three great journalists – and journalism as a whole – at the top of their game. The magnitude of the event was deftly handled by those who reported from the streets of New York City, the Pentagon and the anchors who coordinated the coverage from back in the studio.

MSNBC reminded the country today, once again, of the tragic story – and the way it was covered.

Twitter reacts to MSNBC’s 9/11 replay.

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