MSNBC.com put out a fascinating report yesterday from NBC space analyst James Oberg that debunked seven lingering myths about the Challenger shuttle explosion, which happened 20 years ago today.
Chief among them: The nation watched as the tragedy unfolded. That was true only if you were part of the sliver of the nation watching CNN that day. The other networks had cut away, as Oberg reminds us, and had to replay the explosion ad nauseum during the wall-to-wall coverage that ensued.
If only Janet Shamlian had bothered to read his article. This morning on "Today," Shamlian was doing a live shot from Cape Canaveral, where a memorial service is set to remember the seven astronauts who perished.
But in the set-up to a taped piece on Christa McAuliffe's family, Shamlian repeated the now-discredited mantra that the "nation was watching" that day.
Nice that Oberg provides some context to the tragedy. Not nice that Shamlian overlooked a crucial point.
By the way, on the MSNBC Web site there's video of an interview with NASA Administrator Michael Griffin by Tom Costello. It's interesting, in part, because they put up the raw tape, warts and all. In the beginning, the interview is momentarily halted when Costello's cell phone goes off.
Watching this tape is also a useful exercise for journalism students, to get insight into the process of editing a news package, and see what news crews have to deal with to find one or two quickie sound bites out of a 24-minute interview.
You're looking for the money quotes, but because you only have limited air time, lots of good stuff doesn't make the cut, which is why it's nice that NBC and other networks are giving us additional windows to view the fruits of their labor.