The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th, or 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda upon the United States in New York City, New York; Arlington County, Virginia and Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks resulted in 2,977 fatalities, over 25,000 injuries, and substantial long-term health consequences, in addition to at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. It is the deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 340 and 72 killed, respectively.
- 8:46am (EST) - First plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. It was initially believed to be an accident of any kind.
- 9:03am - Second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center causing an explosion in the building's upper floors.
- 9:29am - President Bush calls the plane crashes as an apparent terrorist attack.
- 9:32am - As terror grips Manhattan, NYSE closes.
- 9:37am - Third plane crashed into the Pentagon..
- 9:45am - White House and Capitol Building was evacuated.
- 9:46am - FAA grounds all flights. It was the first time in American history that US air traffic is halted.
- 9:51am - Pentagon updates its alert status to the highest level possible, Delta.
- 9:59am - South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
- 10:06am - Fourth plane crashed into Pennsylvania.
- 10:15am - A section of the Pentagon collapsed.
- 10:22am - State and Justice Departments in Washington, along with the World Bank were evacuated.
- 10:24am - FAA orders all international flights bound to USA diverted to Canada.
- 10:28am - North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
- 5:20pm - Seven hours after the North Tower collapsed, the 47-storey Building 7 of the WTC complex also collapsed
- 6:54pm - President Bush returns to the White House
- 8:30pm - Almost 12 hours after the attacks, President Bush then addressed the nation from the Oval Office.
Television during and after the attacks
Television coverage of the September 11 attacks and their aftermath was the longest uninterrupted news event in the history of U.S. television, as the major U.S. broadcast networks were on the air for 93 continuous hours. From the moment the networks broadcast the news that the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, all programs and commercials were suspended, with all four networks broadcasting uninterrupted news coverage. This was the first time since the advent of cable and satellite television that a vast number of cable networks would suspend programming to air live news coverage of events. Programming on the cable and satellite channels was also altered in the immediate aftermath, as only appropriate re-runs were aired, and commercials were either changed, suspended, or replaced by PSA messaging to help the attack's victims. Millions of television viewers, watching live broadcasts of the attacks unfolding, would see the second plane hit the South Tower and both towers collapse.
This was the first time since the assassination of John F. Kennedy that TV networks announced that there would be no television commercials or programs for an indefinite period of several days after the attacks, as it was widely felt that it was an inappropriate time for "fun and entertainment" programs to be shown when so much death and destruction was being seen live on television. During the week of the attacks, evening news broadcasts for the networks nearly doubled its average viewership audience, and it was also estimated that American adults watched an average of eight hours of television a day, again nearly double the average viewership audience. To keep up with the constant flow of information, many news networks began running continuous updates in the form of a news ticker that crawled along the bottom of the screen, which soon became a permanent feature of many networks.
U.S. television reaction
|ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision and Telemundo||Suspended programming (in all time zones) to air special coverage from their respective news divisions: ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Noticias Univision and Noticias Telemundo. At the time of the first attack, the five networks were in the last half-hour of airing their respective morning programs live in the Eastern and Central time zones: Good Morning America, The Early Show, Today, ¡Despierta América!, and Esta Mañana.
ABC, CBS, and NBC would air commercial-free, live news coverage until September 15. Some affiliates broke away from network news coverage at certain times to air their regularly-scheduled local newscasts. The three major networks brought in their main evening news anchors to lead coverage within the hour: Peter Jennings took over from Good Morning America on ABC at 9:12am, Tom Brokaw came in on NBC at 9:45am (though NBC's coverage continued under the purview of Today for several more hours), and Dan Rather went on-air on CBS at 10:00 a.m. just seconds after the first tower fell.
|CNN, CNBC, MSNBC and Fox News Channel||CNN, which was the first cable to break the news of the first attack at 8:49am EDT, provided constant live coverage of 9/11's aftermath for almost three consecutive months, with the network's overnight rebroadcasts replaced with CNN International's coverage. CNBC followed CNN in breaking the news of the first attack at 8:50am, then by MSNBC at 8:52, and Fox News Channel at 8:54.
CNBC simulcast the coverages of its sister networks MSNBC and NBC, while periodically covering the impact of the attacks on business.
|Fox||Since the network did not have a network morning program, many Fox affiliates began airing local news telecasts with coverage from Fox News Channel. Like the three major networks, Fox aired commercial-free, live news coverage until September 15, with local affiliates breaking away from network news coverage at certain times to air their regularly-scheduled local newscasts.|
|PBS||Several PBS member stations and decided to air PBS Kids programming, even in primetime, outside of The NewsHour and other regular public affairs programming to provide children with a safe harbor from continuous news coverage of the attacks. Other PBS member stations and some non-commercial independent stations continued showing normal programming, though with some extended coverage if they carried foreign newscasts.
Two New York area non-commercial stations with transmitter facilities away from the World Trade Center aired coverage from WTC-based commercial stations to allow those news operations to continue to broadcast: WLIW (with their transmitter in Plainview, Long Island) simulcast coverage from NBC's New York affiliate WNBC, while the city-owned WNYE (transmitting then from the Empire State Building), New Jersey Network and home shopping station WHSE-TV simulcast coverage from ABC's New York affiliate, WABC.
|The WB||Simulcast coverage transmitted at the network level from CNN.|
|UPN||A majority of UPN affiliates aired CBS News's coverage, though nine of the 10 UPN stations owned by Fox Television Stations which acquired from BHC Communications before the attacks (including KCOP-TV in Los Angeles) along with other UPN affiliates that did not air CBS News coverage, instead aired Fox News' coverage.|
|Pax TV||The network aired coverage from NBC News , which had a close relationship with many of the network's affiliates at the time through news share agreements with local NBC affiliates.|
|New York City television stations||Provided local coverage of the World Trade Center attacks, while dealing with the additional hamstring of their transmission facilities atop the World Trade Center being destroyed, along with six station engineers at the building being killed in the attacks.
Aside from CBS affiliate WCBS-TV and Univision affiliate WXTV (which both maintained backup Empire State Building facilities), the other major New York English commercial stations hastily made arrangements with other full-power and low-power stations in the market not based at the World Trade Center (including shifts of coverage to otherwise commercial-free public television stations) to continue broadcasting their coverage over-the-air (coverage over cable television was for the most part not affected due to direct fiber connections from stations to Time Warner Cable and Cablevision; the attacks pre-dated the addition of local channels to direct-broadcast satellite providers). WXTV relayed news in both Spanish and English to provide information to over-the-air viewers.
|U.S. independent television stations||Most independent stations suspended normal programming, while some independent stations continued to show their normal programming.|
|U.S. local cable news channels||Some local cable news channels simulcast coverage from all of the major national cable news networks, with the exception of local cable news channels in the New York metropolitan area, such as NY1 and News 12, which provided local coverage.|
|WUSA-TV||The Washington, D.C.-based CBS-affiliate television station broadcast local coverage of the attack on the Pentagon. It was criticized that the global scale of the story was too overwhelming for the station to cover as a strictly local news event and they should have deferred to CBS News instead.|
|All News Channel||Continued their usual "news wheel" format updated when needed, albeit with the full half-hour devoted to the attacks rather than its usual format.|
|ESPN, ESPN2 and SoapNet||These networks, which are owned by The Walt Disney Company, aired coverage from ABC News, with ESPN debating whether or not to carry an edition of SportsCenter that day, before deciding on doing a special edition dealing with how the sports world was affected by the attacks.|
|WFXZ-CD||This former MTV2 affiliate in Boston skipped an airing of an episode of the very first blootoon Jeffy, depicting the plane crash.|
|MTV, VH1, CMT, BET and TNN||Aired coverage from the original Viacom-owned CBS News, with VH1 airing coverage from CBS's New York affiliate, WCBS-TV.
After departing from CBS News coverage, MTV decided to air a limited continuous loop of music videos, with no new videos being introduced for weeks. The playlist included only light to mournful songs and videos, which included Destiny's Child's cover of "Emotion", "I'm Like a Bird" by Nelly Furtado, and U2's "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of".
|KCPT||This PBS affiliate in Kansas City skipped an airing of an episode of the children's television series Jay Jay the Jet Plane depicting a plane crash.|
|TBS, TNT, CourtTV, CNNfn and CNNSI||Aired coverage from the Turner Broadcasting System and AOL Time Warner-owned CNN.|
|FX, The Health Network, Speedvision, Fox Family and select regional Fox Sports Net channels||Aired coverage from the News Corporation-owned Fox News Channel.|
|C-SPAN and HSN||These networks aired coverage from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC) U.S. cable news channel, Newsworld International after initally suspending programming (which itself simulcast CBC's Canadian coverage at several times throughout the week). HSN and Newsworld International were then owned by IAC.|
|TLC and BBC America||These networks, which are owned by Discovery Communications, aired coverage from BBC World News.|
|Superstation WGN||Owned by Tribune Broadcasting, the network simulcast coverage from their New York sister station, WPIX-TV.|
|Food Network, HGTV, DIY, Lifetime, Oxygen, QVC and Shop at Home||Stopped airing programs altogether, with a still card expressing sympathies being placed on screen.
Food Network and Oxygen were required to halt their operations since they were based in lower Manhattan at the time. The latter of which would redirect their satellite feed to NY1.
|Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, USA Network, TBN, A&E, The History Channel, Game Show Network, Sci Fi Channel and Bravo||Continued their regular programming.|
|The Weather Channel||Continued their regular programming, although with extra coverage of items of interest to their audience such as airport issues and ground travel delays due to the FAA's full-stop of all air operations.|
|PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Noggin, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Toon Disney, The Bloo and Boomerang||These children's cable networks retained their usual programming schedules, with some episode removals due to violent or bomb-related imagery.|
|HBO, Showtime and Starz||These premium channels and their associated networks retained their usual schedules, though triggering films with extreme violence and disaster films were quickly substituted with lighter films.|
International television reaction
|Australia||ABC, Seven Network, Nine Network and Network Ten||Carried live coverage from their American partner networks for several days after the attacks.|
|Austria||ORF 2||Suspended programming to provide coverage of the attacks.|
|Brazil||Rede Globo||Interrupted its normal programming to broadcast an special report at 9:54am local time. The special report ended at 9:56am, but was shortly restarted as the directors started to get new information. Shortly after, the network started to use a generic graphic package with the text "Terrorist Attacks in the USA" over CNN's live images. Around 11:05am, the station restarted to air its normal programming but at every commercial break its news division would take over for approximately 7 minutes. At 12:00pm, Globo broadcast an special edition of Jornal Hoje. As the program ended, Globo decided to restart its normal programming for the second time with occasional breaks for the news division to make updates about the situation. At 8:15pm, Jornal Nacional, the network's primetime newscast, started an special edition. The program became the country's most-watched newscast of 2001.|
|Canada||CBC Newsworld, CBC, Citytv, Global and CTV||CBC Newsworld broke into regular programming at 8:52am EDT to carry the first report of the attacks, while CBC, Citytv, Global and CTV provided English-language coverage of the attacks and its aftermath, including Operation Yellow Ribbon|
|Télévision de Radio-Canada||Provided French-language coverage of the attacks.|
|Food Network Canada and HGTV||Stopped airing programs altogether, as their American parent channels had also halted operations.|
|Europe||EuroNews||Provided coverage of the attacks.|
|France||TF1, France 2, France 3 and TV5Monde||Suspended programming to provide coverage of the attacks.|
|Germany||Das Erste, ZDF, Phoenix, WDR Fernsehen, Südwest Fernsehen, MDR Fernsehen, RTL Television, RTL II, N24, ProSieben, Kabel 1, Sat.1, VOX, n-tv, ORB-Fernsehen and hessen fernsehen||Suspended programming to provide coverage of the attacks. ARD member stations Südwest Fernsehen and MDR Fernsehen aired Phoenix's coverage. RTL II aired the coverage from its sister network RTL Television. ProSiebenSat.1 Media networks ProSieben and Kabel 1 aired N24's coverage.|
|Italy||Rai 1 and Canale 5||Suspended programming to provide coverage of the attacks.|
|Japan||NHK, Nippon TV, TBS, Fuji TV, TV Asahi and TV Tokyo||Suspended coverage of the aftermath of the Myojo 56 building fire that had occurred ten days before the attacks.|
|Malaysia||TV1, TV2 and TV3||Continued their regular programming while the networks' news programs included news bulletins covering the World Trade Center attacks.|
|Philippines||ABS-CBN, GMA, ABC, NBN, RPN, IBC and Studio 23||Continued their regular programming but the networks' news programs including hourly news bulletins covering the attacks.|
|Portugal||RTP||Suspended programming to provide coverage of the attacks.|
|Spain||TVE||Suspended programming to provide coverage of the attacks.|
|Switzerland||SF1, TV3 and SFi||Provided German-language coverage of the attacks.|
|United Kingdom||BBC and ITV||Suspended their programming for in-depth coverage of the attacks but some programs continued to air including the premiere of The Blue Planet on BBC One.|