NBC’s chief competitors, including ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox News all refrained from discussing Richard Engel’s disappearance in Syria at the request of NBC.
While Engel’s disappearance may have been newsworthy, most major news organizations have had similar situations happen to their correspondents, and almost certainly would make the same request of NBC. In 2009, The New York Times revealed that one of its reporters, David Rohde, had escaped after months of being imprisoned by the Taliban. Reporters who learned of Rohde’s kidnapping weighed the pros and cons of publishing the story, and it ultimately remained secret.
Engel hinted at the effort to withold information about his kidnapping during his “Today,” appearance, saying:
NBC was fantastic at informing our families, keeping people up to date and keeping the story quiet. While obviously we are very happy, there are still hostages, there are still people who don’t have their freedom inside Syria, and we wish them well.