Broadcast, Cable Networks Up Early For Mandela Memorial Service

By Merrill Knox 

The broadcast and cable networks were up early this morning as international leaders, dignitaries and thousands of South Africans filled FNB Stadium in Johannesburg to honor Nelson Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95.

Brian Williams, who as we noted yesterday is the only network anchor to be in South Africa, opened up NBC News’ special report at 4amET noting the “absolutely miserable weather” in Johannesburg. Williams’ special report lasted until the conclusion of the service shortly before 7amET, and he and Lester Holt, who was reporting from FNB Stadium, appeared at the top of the “Today” show.

ABC News also began their special report, anchored by George Stephanopoulos and from New York, at 4amET. Robin Roberts joined Stephanpoulos at the conclusion of the service, just before “Good Morning America” began, and chief foreign affairs correspondent Terry Moran was at FNB Stadium for ABC News.


CBS News also had a special report beginning at 4amET, with Anne-Marie Green anchoring from New York. Debra Patta reported from Soweto for the network. Unlike ABC and NBC, CBS News’ special report lasted just eight minutes. The network went back on the air with two more special reports, for the start of the ceremony and for President Barack Obama‘s remarks, then stayed on through “CBS This Morning.”

As for the cable networks: Anderson Cooper anchored from FNB Stadium for CNN beginning at 3:30amET. Cooper was joined by Robyn Curnow and Christiane Amanpour from the stadium. “The rain, they say here, is good luck,” Amanpour noted. Chris Cuomo took over from Cooper for “New Day” beginning at 6amET.

Fox News began coverage at 4amET, with Ainsley Earhardt anchoring in New York. Fox News dipped in and out of coverage from News Corp’s UK-based Sky News during the 4 a.m. hour, but turned away from continuous coverage of the service when “Fox & Friends First” started at 5amET. “Fox & Friends” went back to the service for Obama’s remarks during the 6amET hour.

MSNBC simulcast NBC News’ special report from 4am-6amET before “Morning Joe” began. Like Fox News, MSNBC went back to the memorial service for Obama’s speech.