TV News Reflects on 9/11/2001: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, NBC’s Anne Thompson

By Alex Weprin 

With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks approaching, TVNewser reached out to anchors, reporters, producers and executives for their thoughts on that day, and what they believe has changed in the last 10 years.

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, who told TVNewser that he rushed to work after it became apparent that the attacks were a major story:

I ran upstairs and started packing a bag, because I figured I am on my way to New York. I ran out of the house, started driving and talking to producers, saying I am going to run over to the shuttle and get up to New York. As I am doing that, and I am already in the car, we hear about the Pentagon.

I am a former Pentagon correspondent, so I drove right over to the CNN bureau, which was easier said than done because the traffic was crazy. It took forever, at one point I was just going to leave my car and start running over to the CNN bureau. I did manage to get through some back streets and find my way over to North Capital, and eventually I got here and got on the air. We started working nonstop. We didn’t really understand the enormity of it until later, but it was pretty scary, forget about being a journalist, just being a person.

NBC’s Anne Thompson, who reported from Ground Zero that fateful day:

What I remember about that day are the sounds. The confusion and growing quiet as I walked towards the towers and everyone was walking out. Then a sound I had never heard before, like the earth opening up. A tidal wave of debris roared down Broadway and blacked out that beautiful September morning. I couldn’t breathe. I choked, trying to find air. Soot rained down and a strange warm liquid. After it was over, there were voices, the people I huddled with against a building. I never realized there were other people around me until then. We had survived.
I remained at Ground Zero until about 11 that night reporting on the collapse of the towers. Though I had survived both, I really had no idea of the bigger picture that day. Remember, this was before Twitter and Facebook and the wide use of Blackberrys. My reporting was very focused on what was happening at Ground Zero. It wasn’t until I got back to my sister’s apartment that I saw the video of the plane going into one of the towers, the hole in the Pentagon, or the crash in Shanksville. It was only then that I really had an idea of what had happened to our country.

Now when I think back to that day, I like to think about the extraordinary families I met in the days after: the Perazas, the Gavagans, and the Meyers. Margie Meyer walking the streets of New York with her husband Dave’s picture safety pinned to her chest. Jackie Gavagan clutching a photo of her husband Donald as she gave birth to their third child, Connor 52 days after September 11th. Connor born with his father’s spectacular blue eyes. The Perazas… every year a family member runs the New York City Marathon that Rob never got to run. The courage of these families, in the face of devastating loss, inspires me every day.