CBS’ Ben Plesser is first Western journalist to report from Tripoli, Libya

By Chris Ariens 

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As Western TV networks have made their way into Libya this week, from either the Eastern or Western borders, the Gadhafi stronghold of Tripoli has been particularly challenging to get into. This morning, CBS News producer Ben Plesser became the first Western journalist to report from the city.

“The city is pretty much abandoned,” Plesser told “The Early Show” co-anchor Erica Hill by phone. “There are no pedestrians on the streets. There is very thin traffic on the road.”

For security reasons, CBS won’t reveal how Plesser got into the city. The New York Times’ Brian Stelter reported last night that the Gadhafi government “extended a strange and remarkable offer” to foreign journalists to take them around the capital to see conditions. CBS News would not say whether they took up that offer.

“The scene at the airport was, to say the least, chaotic,” Plesser reported. “There are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of people packed in the terminals. Mostly foreign workers – they’re Egyptian, they’re Turk, some from south east Asia. Every once and a while, you see a western face. They are living on the floor wrapped in dirty blankets that have been there for days and they’re the lucky ones with a roof over their heads,” he reported.”

London-based Plesser has been with CBS News for about 10 years.