Inside The Situation Room: “We Proved…That We Can Do News Differently”

By Brian 

Only on TVNewser: Maybe The Situation Room should be four hours long.

“We have so much news!,” CNN senior executive producer Sam Feist exclaimed Monday afternoon, 40 minutes before Wolf Blitzer‘s broadcast premiered in Washington.

D.C. bureau chief David Bohrman smiled. “There’s stuff he can’t fit in, and he has three hours!” By 6pm, Bohrman was joking about adding a fourth hour. (I should probably stress the word joking. After 180 minutes of live TV, I was exhausted, and I was just a fly on the wall.)

Bohrman said TSR is probably the “most complicated daily news show” he has even been a part of. Months ago, the show was just a concept in his head. “I could see it, but it just took months to get it out,” he said.

Imagine producing a show with this goal in mind: “I really hope the rundown that Sam and his company have prepared at 3 o’clock bears little relation to the program the ends at 6 o’clock,” Bohrman said.

And sure enough, after the show, Feist said only two of the segments in the 5pm hour were written into the original rundown.

After the three-hour premiere, the staff gathered for champagne and cake. “One thing we learned is, you have to go to the bathroom afterwards,” Bohrman joked. He called the show a “spectacular new venture.”

Blitzer thanked the staff, and quoted Tiger Woods: “Practice, practice, practice!” He said the rehearsals paid off: “For a first show, I don’t think it could have been any better.”

In the days to come, they’ll work out the kinks: The camera angles, the video wall coordination, the teases, the graphics.

But Monday was an accomplishment worth recognizing. As Feist told the staff, “we proved today that we can do news differently.”