Neil Armstrong's Death Draws Limited Television Coverage [View all]
NEW YORK — By the yardstick of history, Neil Armstrong was among the most accomplished men ever to walk on the planet that he looked upon from afar one magical week in July 1969.
Television news didn't seem to fully recognize the importance of the first human to walk on the moon on the weekend he died.
In the hours after Armstrong's death was announced, news networks were airing canned programming – jailhouse documentaries, a rerun interview with Rielle Hunter, Mike Huckabee's weekend show. Menacing satellite pictures of Tropical Storm Isaac had much more air time than Armstrong's dusty hops on the lunar surface. Talk of the upcoming GOP national convention sucked up the air.
A trio of factors played in to the lack of attention.
First, Armstrong died on a Saturday. Not just any Saturday, when news organizations have a skeletal staff, but a late August weekend. Half the country is at the beach. It's not a stretch to think inexperience on duty might have played a role in NBC News' embarrassing gaffe: a website headline that read: "Astronaut Neil Young, first man to walk on the moon, dies at age 82." (NBC called it a staffer error and said the mistake was taken down after seven minutes.)