Everyone into the pool!” No, it wasn’t a CNN party at Ted Turner’s place. Rather, it was the Bush administration’s policy to control press coverage during the gulf conflict. For the riveted television viewer, however, the restrictions only heightened the suspense of the war: Which correspondent would break away from the pack, score a major scoop and claim a bit of that fabled Edward R. Murrow combat-reporter glow? And so they were off:
Whooosh! Would NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw (competitors are identified from right to left) wind up first? Sorry, Tom! Not even a trip to Dhahran and Arthur Kent could put you above third in the ratings.
Pedaling furiously behind him is Forrest Sawyer. He was ABC’s first reporter in Kuwait and, thanks to his portable satellite dish, first with pictures from the front.
Richard Blystone, CNN’s unflappable man in Scud-weary Tel Aviv, downplayed the danger when he deadpanned to Larry King: “It’s a big world and a small missile.”
Note how no more than two strands of Peter Jennings’s hair are mussed—but then, the unfailingly cool anchor went the farthest by standing still: He stayed in New York City, and his ABC broadcast was No. 1.
The flapping sound you hear from CNN’s relatively unknown Baghdad correspondent Christiane Amanpour is the wind plucking at the war’s sole touch of glamour—her scarves. Amanpour is still out there, reporting from the Middle East.
And that howling is CNN Pentagon reporter Wolf Blitzer, whose name inspired plenty of good-natured jokes, including Jay Leno’s tweak: “What’ll they call the first desert war movie? Dances with Wolf Blitzer.”
First to enter Kuwait City, CBS’s Bob McKeown was greeted as a hero by citizens and hailed as an overnight star by the American media.
A brief ego puncture was suffered by CNN’s Charles Jaco, who caught a whiff” of Patriot-missile exhaust, thought he smelled a chemical attack and donned a gas mask on-camera. Said he: “I looked like an idiot.”
Because of his stellar performance as the first bombs exploded over Baghdad. CNN’s Bernard Shaw was given a safe new assignment—anchor of the network’s Primenews nightly newscast.
NBC Pentagon correspondent Fred Francis impressed people with his firm handle on war strategy.
CNN’s John Holliman was anything but a third wheel, working with Shaw and Peter Arnett in bomb-shaken Baghdad.
ABC’s Linda Pattillo—give her points for wearing a helmet—was the only female TV correspondent on the front lines.
CBS anchorman Dan Rather was the first TV journalist to interview Saddam Hussein after the Aug. 2 invasion. But in the end, that coup didn’t help his newscast, which finished behind Jennings’s.