The Anatomy of Booking a Terror-Fighting Hero on American TV

By Chris Ariens 

TVNewser has gotten the play-by-play of how CNN came to acquire one of just two cell phone images from the aftermath of the terror scare on Northwest Flight 253.

The first tip came in to CNN’s viewer communication tipline shortly after the plane landed in Detroit — the early afternoon hours of Christmas Day. The tipster said their friend, Jasper Schuringa, had a cell phone image of the suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

A CNN producer followed up and spoke to Schuringa’s friend and around 1amET on Dec. 26, after vetting the image to make sure it was legit, the two discussed a licensing fee for the photo, but did not discuss an interview with Schuringa, who at this point was trying to make his way to Miami, his original destination.

A contract was signed for CNN to use the image on all platforms. The friend told the producer that Jasper would be open to some interviews, with the CNN employee telling the friend the network doesn’t pay for interviews.

The producer then spoke to Jasper around 6amET for a pre-interview, a common practice whereby bookers and producers get a sense of what the guest will say when they appear live on TV. The pre-interview provides research material for the anchor. Schuringa told the producer he needed to sleep for a little bit, but that he would come on a little later. At 6:21amET, CNN Wire published a story that included the pre-interview details. Schuringa appeared on CNN for his first interview at 1:20pmET, about 24 hours after the incident in Detroit.

Schuringa continues his appearances tonight as he goes on “Larry King Live.”

RelatedGawker: Schuringa is being repped by Shai Ben-Ami, a Miami restaurateur. During his CNN interview, Schuringa said his trip the U.S. was to visit friends in Miami.