Bill Blakemore Shines On ABC

When national tragedy strikes, the big names typically take over the mics immediately. That wasn’t the case on Saturday, February 1, when the space shuttle Columbia broke up over Texas. That day, the face on ABC was one that few recognized. Bill Blakemore, a veteran war and science correspondent, deftly reported the fate of the Columbia and its crew. While cable news nets seemed particularly bent on chasing “eyewitness” phone interviews, Blakemore methodically relayed information as it was confirmed from an inauspicious set in a newsroom. Peter Jennings, who was weekending on Long Island, took over coverage at 12:18 p.m. ET. Dan Rather was the only anchor among the Big 3 who made it to the desk before noon. (Big 3 as in network news organizations—Fox simply ran a feed from Fox News Channel.) NBC stayed with Weekend Today morning anchors Soledad O’Brien and David Bloom—Tom Brokaw was reportedly out of town.