A pretty remarkable thing happened during the cable news coverage of President Obama’s visit to Ground Zero on Thursday.
For more than 10 minutes — as cameras focused on the president laying a wreath at the World Trade Center site, honoring the victims of 9/11 just four days after killing Osama Bin Laden — there was none of the usual commentary on CNN, MSNBC or Fox News.
No punditry. No talking. Nothing.
Just the machine-gun sound of cameras, furiously capturing what was perhaps the third most iconic image of the Obama presidency in a week (the announcement of Bin Laden’s killing and the now-famous Situation Room photo being the other two).
It was supposed to be a “moment” of silence. But to their credit, the hosts of the three cable networks — Anderson Cooper, Chris Matthews, Shepard Smith — remained silent as Obama met and chatted with members of the victims’ families at Ground Zero, letting the moment, as they say in sports, “breathe.”
For all the criticism of cable news rhetoric, and all the talking heads talking over each other, it was refreshing to hear nothing for that long.