Like everyone else on Sunday evening, I turned on the TV as soon as I heard the news about Osama bin Laden being killed. I had logged onto the Internet around 9:00pm to see it on my home page. So I tuned into CNN to follow the developing story. Wolf Blitzer, who's fine as a news person, just not my particular cup of tea (I find him a bit stilted and awkward, like he's some kind of news robot), was playing the usual hopscotch round-robin that all these cable news networks do when there's breaking news. Except there's rarely breaking news of this magnitude. The most infamous man in the world shot dead by an elite American military team during a raid on foreign soil. Even Hollywood can't make up this shit (because Chuck Norris is retired).
As the story unfolded we learned--from Wolf and his various reporters and on-air cronies--what transpired and how it happened. At one point they discussed the failure of one of the helicopters that the military used to raid the compound in Pakistan, and Wolf asked a question about the Blackhawk copter. To which the reporter paused and replied, a bit befuddled, "You're referring, of course, to the famous movie, Blackhawk Down."
Um...no. He was referring to the helicopter failing in past missions. And that's an important and oft-forgotten lesson in 24-hour television news management: You can lead a reporter to the camera, but you can't always make him be sensible. When you want these people to talk non-stop to cover the fact that every breaking news story is still breaking, and little information is available, make sure they're up to the task. This guy clearly wasn't. (The reporter's name has been redacted to protect the innocent.)