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Tony Snow

A difficult day unfolds on television

The pictures quickly told the story that the news anchors couldn't yet confirm. By 10 a.m. yesterday, less than an hour after NASA was reported to have lost contact with the space shuttle Columbia, several networks and cable news channels were already airing videotape that showed the spacecraft splinter apart as it hurtled toward Earth. Reporters were cautious in how they talked about the fate of the space shuttle. But the footage left little doubt. There was a searing light, captured from various angles as it descended, that suddenly burst into several distinct trails. The videotape came from news photographers for local television stations in Dallas and other parts of Texas who were...