American TV coverage of the tumult in Egypt entered a new phase Sunday with the arrival of top network and cable anchors on the scene.
The day began for many American viewers with the sight of ABC's Christiane Amanpour on the ground in Cairo as military jets flew overhead and ended with a special two-hour live report on CNN at 9 p.m. anchored in part by Anderson Cooper who was also in Egypt.
I am sure TV insiders and some critics will start yapping soon about "big foot" anchormen and anchorwomen showing up and sucking the oxygen out of the room. Forget it. I thought both telecasts were impressive, and served both viewers and their news organizations well.
Take a look at Amanpour, who has been struggling to find her voice as a Sunday morning public affairs anchor on the third-place "This Week with Christiane Amanpour," back in her correspondent's khaki jacket gathering information, interviewing key figures, and synthesizing all of it at a million miles a minute.
Cooper was equally impressive serving as one leg of the three-part anchoring team that included Wolf Blitzer in Washington and Isha Sesay, of CNN International, in Atlanta. If developments in Egypt continue in the direction they look to be headed, I hope CNN sticks with this team. It is very impressive, and it has the same sense of authority that Amanpour brought to her telecast Sunday -- something both "This Week" and CNN prime-time have been struggling with.
I'll get some video of Cooper's work in Tahrir Square up as soon as CNN posts it or sends an embed code my way. Even though much of Sunday night's show was videotape because of the time difference, I love these live prime-time recaps of the day's events on big, volatile stories like this. I can't watch one channel all day, but I can do an hour at night if I trust the news team.
And this needs to be said, that while CNN had two hours of live coverage from Egypt and elsewhere last night, MSNBC was showing "To Catch a Predator" reruns from "Dateline." This is the same MSNBC that was questioning CNN's journalistic judgment last week in its coverage of the State of the Union speech.
One last thing on the Amanpour video, what did you think of her interview with Mohamed ElBaradei? I was impressed, especially with how focused she was in getting him to respond to what the Obama administration has been saying. There is not a shred of doubt after this interview as to how disappointed ElBaradei is in President Obama's response.
"To ask a dictator to implement democracy after 30 years is an oxymoron," ElBaradei says.