By Todd Peterson
Updated March 20, 2003 11:27 AM
Advertisement

“Good morning, Baghdad,” were the words employed by CBS newscaster Dan Rather when the bombs began falling in Iraq Wednesday night.

Rather, along with anchors from the major networks and the cable news stations, rushed to immediately break into the scheduled programming just after 9:30 p.m. ET when the United States began bombing the capital city.

The networks had agreed to share footage during the first 24 hours of an attack, the Associated Press reports, so each had photographs of Baghdad as the sun was coming up.

However, the initial attack, which was expected to be massive and which both countries had been bracing for, was comparatively small. On NBC, retired U.S. Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey declared himself “in shock and awe” at the size of the initial U.S. raid.

There was some speculation that the first attack was an effort to pinpoint specific targets — perhaps Saddam Hussein himself. Such talk led to a new catchphrase, as reporters bandied about the idea of “targets of opportunity.”

In New York, many of the stations from which the broadcasts were originating were on a strict lockdown. Heavily armed police with bomb-sniffing dogs and radiation detectors combed the city, keeping an eye on the television stations in the event of a possible terrorist attack. The concern is that parties may try to seize the airwaves to broadcast anti-American messages.

“It’s a concern, especially with international television companies,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told AP.

Meanwhile, regular programming — and all forms of entertainment, actually — was upended as the U.S. settled into a war mode. Major media companies including Disney, Fox and PEOPLE parent AOL Time Warner could lose up to $200 million in revenue during the war’s first four days, Variety reports.

Additionally, the movie box-office, as well as Broadway and live concerts, were all expected to feel an immediate pinch.