Beginning with the morning shows and continuing on cable, the big news today has been the ongoing drama on the Indian Ocean – a U.S.-flagged ship hijacked by pirates.
Around 2:40pm this afternoon, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips talked with a man who claimed to be a crew member of the Maersk Alabama during a ship-to-shore phone call placed by CNN. Phillips talked with second mate Ken Quinn:
Phillips: Can you tell me the situation right now?
Quinn: Right now they want to hold our captain for ransom and we’re trying to get him back. We have a coalition that will be here in three hours. So we’re just trying to hold them off for three more hours and then we’ll have a warship here to help us.
Phillips: Can you tell me where your captain is in proximity to your cargo ship? where is the — who was he with? what type of boat is he on right now?
Quinn: He’s in the ship’s lifeboat. When they board, they sank their boats so the captain talked them into getting off the ship with the lifeboat. But we took one of their pirates hostage and did an exchange. What? Huh? Okay. I’ve got to go.
Phillips: Ken, can you stay with me for just two more seconds?
Phillips: Can you tell me about the negotiations, what you’ve offered these pirates in exchange for your captain?
Quinn: We had one of their hostages. We had a pirate we took and kept him for 12 hours. We tied him up and he was our prisoner.
Phillips: Did you return him?
Quinn: Yeah, we did. But we returned him but they didn’t return the captain. So now we’re just trying to offer them whatever we can. Food. But it’s not working too good.
Phillips: Are you in control of the vessel right now?
Quinn: Yeah. they are not aboard now. We’re controlling —
Phillips: So can you see that lifeboat with your captain, with the pirates? Is he okay? Is he still alive?
Quinn: yeah. yeah. He talks on the — he’s got one of our ship’s radios. We talk to him.
Phillips: So what is it that the pirates want now in exchange for your captain?
Quinn: I’ve got to hang up.
Later Phillips gave what may be the understatement of the day: “It sounds like the pirates did not keep their end of the deal.”
Considering this is happening on the open ocean, with little or no video to tell the story, we began to wonder how the network evening newscasts will play this. What do you think?
>Update / 4:30pmET: Well, it’s safe to speculate that Katie Couric will lead with the pirates. (But it’s still two hours to showtime). We just heard from CBS that Couric also spoke with Ken Quinn this afternoon. Here’s part of the audio…