“Free at last,” CNN host John Berman said today in introducing Martin Savidge for a chat in CNN’s studios. That location is critical: CNN’s studios. This, after all, is the guy who reported for weeks from the tight confines of a flight simulator in Mississauga, Ontario, for CNN’s nonstop coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. A Twitter hashtag was born:
— Jon Nicosia (@NewsPolitics) March 24, 2014
And then Savidge went underwater, the better to demonstrate the challenges of searching the seas for the wreckage of Flight 370:
— JENNIFER M. CANADAY (@jcanadayaustin) April 18, 2014
In his chat with Berman and co-host Michaela Pereira, Savidge said his time in the flight simulator amounted to a “fascinating experience,” even if many professional and amateur critics may not have shared that assessment. The segments in which Savidge and flight trainer Mitchell Casado explained all the intricacies of a Boeing 777 left the CNN correspondent with a healthy “respect for the job of pilots,” not to mention the craft that they fly: “They are remarkably safe,” concludes Savidge.
All that filming from the simulator, Savidge suggested, has made him a celebrity in the industry: “I have pilots who come up to me all the time and they just, if it’s a rest, sit down right in front of and [say] ‘Come on, what do you know?'”
Savidge showed far less enthusiasm for the sub, which sort of freaked him out at first: “I ducked in for, like, three seconds, I said, ‘Let me just see what it feels like.’ Three seconds later, I literally almost dove out of the hatch gasping for air.”
— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) April 22, 2014
Hashtag-assisted jokes notwithstanding, Savidge’s tenure in the simulator served as a cornerstone for CNN’s initial MH370 splurge. As the Associated Press reported in late March, other news organizations tried to book the Mississauga simulator that Savidge used, but CNN kept it booked up. Smart move: Without the explanatory prop, CNN would have been forced to plow through more panel discussions on the missing flight, or perhaps to cover other, less compelling stories.