Cable News Pivots from Chaos in Libya to Earthquake outside Washington, DC

By Chris Ariens 

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A 5.9 earthquake struck between Mineral and Louisa, Virginia — 90 miles from Washington, DC — at 1:51pmET, but was felt up and down the east coast.

Much of the cable news coverage which had been focused on Libya, switched immediately to the earthquake. Our building is being evacuated … again (we’re on the 4th floor of a high rise in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan).

Back soon. 2:19pm

2:38pm And… we’re back.

2:20pmET: Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, who was anchoring her DC show when the quake struck: “This is a three-story building and our studio is on the third floor. Everybody came down very calmly down the steps, but clearly knocked off of the air from the rumbling sense first described by my colleagues, Pete Williams, and others. And you know the glass and metal desk in the studio, that desktop started to go up and down and seemed as though everything was moving a couple of inches up and down and the papers going every which way, and clearly, it took a while to register.”

2:26pm: Bret Baier outside the Fox News DC bureau on Capitol Hill: “We felt it for 25-30 seconds. The floor shaking beneath us. And then everyone — the alarm went off and everyone went down the stairs. There are hundreds of people out on the streets in D.C outside the Capitol, outside all of the buildings. All these folks waiting to see what they can do as far as getting back in. We have just been told by the building management that we can go in right now and get our things and then 30 minutes from now they are going to shut down this building for right now.”

2:17pm: Wolf Blitzer on CNN: “We felt it here. We’re up on Capitol Hill in our building at CNN in Washington, DC. I was on the eighth floor and all of a sudden it just started slowly, you felt the ground floor moving a little bit. The desks started to shake a little bit. But then you could really feel the pounding and there was a real jolt and I’m guessing it lasted for 20 or 30 seconds.”

2:02pm: CNN’s Barbara Starr at the Pentagon: “Just a few moments ago as the building began

shaking violently, hundreds of people started streaming out. Their reaction was the same as mine. This building was hit on 9/11 when it started shaking. People did not know what was happening and worried instantly that there was a bomb or attack under way once again.”

2:17pm: Jennifer Griffin on Fox News was in the Pentagon when the quake struck: “We have just been allowed back in the building. But when the quake hit — and we did not know it was an earthquake at the time — as we were running down the hallway the entire building was being evacuated I heard colleagues who were here on 9/11 say that’s how it felt on 9/11 when the building was struck by flight 77.”

> TVNewser’s Merrill Knox, just returned from CNN where she attended a screening of an upcoming Soledad O’Brien 9/11 documentary. Merrill, and others, felt the shaking in the 10th floor screening room, which lead O’Brien to joke: “I feel safe in a room full of first responders.”

As for network special reports:

NBC News had been doing near hourly updates on the situation in Libya. The 1:59pmET update also included news of earthquake.

  • CBS News: 2:02pmET. Scott Pelley in New York and Chip Reid at the Pentagon.
  • NBC News: 2:12pmET: Savannah Guthrie anchored, with Kelly O’Donnell in the newsroom in Washington, and Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon.
  • ABC News: 2:13pmET. Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos and Ned Potter in New York; Jon Karl and Producer Ely Brown in Washington DC.