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Cable-News Scrambles to Cover Ariana Grande Concert Tragedy

Variety logo Variety 5/23/2017 Brian Steinberg

MSNBC and Fox News Channel shook up their primetime schedules in the wake of a tragic explosion outside Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert in the United Kingdom Monday that is said to have killed at least 19 people and injured approximately 50.

Fox News Channel dispatched Shepard Smith to its 9 p.m. slot, a roost typically occupied by its panel show “The Five.” Smith was also scheduled to anchor the network’s 11 p.m hour following a live broadcast by Sean Hannity in his usual 10 p.m. time slot. Fox News said it planned to cover the aftermath of the explosion overnight, tapping Los Angeles correspondent Trace Gallagher to anchor from midnight to 1 a.m, followed by Kelly Wright and Arthel Neville, who were scheduled to anchor a three-hour news block between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.

MSNBC, meanwhile, dispatched Brian Williams to anchor its 10 p.m. hour, in part because the time-slot’s regular presence, Lawrence O’Donnell, was slated to be at a family event. Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow added reporting on the explosion to their regular hours.

CNN covered the news with its regularly scheduled programming: Anderson Cooper anchored between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., and Don Lemon picked up duties starting at 10 p.m.

Some broadcast networks broke into programming in the early evening to inform viewers of what had taken place.

On NBC, Lester Holt anchored a 7:30 p.m. special report on the incident, which he also reported on during NBC’s regular “Nightly News” broadcast. NBC News correspondent Kelly Cobiella joined him from the news unit’s London bureau. At ABC, David Muir anchored a special report right after the east coast broadcast of “World News Tonight.” Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran contributed to the report from London. Muir also anchored a special West Coast edition of the program with updates.

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