Networks Ready for McVeigh Execution
By Lynn Elber
AP Television Writer
Wednesday, June 6, 2001; 10:07 p.m. EDT LOS ANGELES Television equipment and coverage plans that were ready for Timothy McVeigh's execution a month ago remain in place for his rescheduled death by injection on Monday.
When a judge cleared the way Wednesday for McVeigh to die by injection in Terre Haute, Ind., broadcast and cable news divisions quickly began pulling out coverage strategies they had in place when his execution was originally scheduled for May 16.
"These are the same plans we had before," CNN spokeswoman Megan Mahoney said Wednesday. Other networks said equipment such as trailers and camera platforms were held over from last month.
For the big three broadcast networks, the 8 a.m. execution means the weight of coverage will fall on their morning programs.
Anchors Charles Gibson of ABC's "Good Morning America" and Katie Couric of NBC's "Today" will be in Oklahoma City, where McVeigh's bomb killed 168 people six years ago.
"That was a conscious decision to emphasize that even on this day of McVeigh's execution, a large and important part of the story is in Oklahoma City with the survivors, families and heroes from the 1996 blast," ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said Wednesday.
NBC has said its decision to deploy Couric in Oklahoma was made because there is more material there, not because the network wanted to make a point. All networks will station reporters in both cities.
Jane Clayson of CBS' "Early Show" will handle anchor duties from Terre Haute. Bryant Gumbel, her co-host, was to be the on-scene anchor but bowed out because of a family obligation, a CBS spokeswoman said Wednesday.
CNN will send about 50 people to Terre Haute and Oklahoma City, including correspondents Susan Candiotti and Bill Hemmer. Regular programs "Burden of Proof" and "The Point" with Greta Van Susteran will be carried live from Terre Haute.
The cable channel also plans to broadcast one-hour McVeigh specials on Sunday and Monday at 10 p.m.
Fox News Channel will begin its coverage at midnight Sunday with twice-hourly live updates. At 6 a.m., continuous coverage will begin from Terre Haute and Oklahoma City with Rita Cosby and four other correspondents.
On MSNBC, Brian Williams will anchor coverage in the studio beginning at 7 a.m, with Chris Jansing reporting from Oklahoma City and Gregg Jarrett from Terre Haute. A live special is set for 8 p.m, Monday, followed at 10 p.m. by a repeat of "Headliners & Legends: Timothy McVeigh."
After the network evening newscasts, CBS will continue its coverage on the news magazine "48 Hours" with anchorman Dan Rather while ABC's "Nightline" is likely to focus on the day's events.
TV can only swirl around the execution, which will not be publicly aired. About 300 victims and relatives will watch by closed circuit television under extremely tight security.
Two spots to witness McVeigh's death have been allotted to the networks, with a coin toss or drawing likely used to determine who gets in to provide a pool report to competitors.
McVeigh's first execution was stayed following the disclosure of FBI documents that were not provided to the defense. A judge Wednesday refused to grant a further stay, but McVeigh's attorneys said they would appeal.
© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press