I just love that term “bitch slap.” It’s so Dynasty—so Linda Evans-vs. Joan Collins—in its ability to describe the backstage catfight taking place amongst media giants eager to secure the first media interview with US Airways Flight 1549 pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger of Danville.
The Huffington Post says: “Katie Couric has landed the first interview with the pilot who safely brought his distressed plane down in the Hudson River–a coup that comes at the expense of her former “Today” show partner Matt Lauer.
The interview with Sullenberger and his crew will be shown February 8 on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Lauer had been promised the first interview live on January 19. But the day before, Sullenberger’s pilots association asked him to postpone interviews while the investigation into U.S. Airways Flight 1549 and its water landing continued.”
Bummer, or however you want to describe the mood at NBC.
Meanwhile, I find this growing media circus around pilot “Sully” and his family to be increasingly interesting—and amusing. By the way, I got nudged into attending the ceremonies in Danville Saturday to welcome back their hometown hero.
If you’ve been living under a rock, Sully is the veteran pilot who safely landed his jet airliner—carrying 155 passengers and crew members—into the Hudson River after both engines were disabled following a collision with a flock of birds.
Despite the postponement, the NBC show said it had a continued commitment with Sullenberger’s family and media adviser to have the first interview.
Guess not. According to NBC News spokeswoman Megan Kopf: “Unfortunately, people close to him have not acted nearly as admirably over the past few days. They gave us their word, and then broke their commitment. We wish Captain Sullenberger the best.”
So, now the Today show has no plans now to interview Sullenberger. The Sullenbergers’ media advisor, Alex Clemens of the communications firm Barbary Coast Consulting, confirmed the 60 Minutes interview [with Couric] but said he would have no other comment.
Hmm, so the Sullenbergers have a media advisor, possibly playing fast and loose with commitments to journalists. Too bad for Sully, who acted courageously and gracefully in safely landing that airplane. In the post-heroics aftermath, it doesn’t look good for him–PR-wise, that is–to renege on commitments.
No, I’m not weepy for the loss of this scoop to Matt Lauer or Today. Lauer and Today comprise an organization of big boys and girls who can handle these setbacks.
But, I actually have to agree with that NBC News spokewoman: it’s just not good manners. And I know some people will want my head for even suggesting that the brave, heroic Sully, or people close to him, committed a social faux pas.
I’ll put it this way: A couple times over the years, my son has committed to attending the birthday party of some kid from his class he liked okay, before an invitation to another birthday party, at the same date and around the same time, came from another kid he liked better. Part of me wanted to say, screw it, we’ll let you bow out of your first commitment so you can attend the party you’d really rather attend.
Then, we said, no. You RSVP’ed. You gave your word to Kid No. 1. You gotta stick to that commitment, even if you like him so-so, and you’re thinking the party won’t be as fun as the party given by Friend No. 2.