BOB GARFIELD: This is On the Media. I'm Bob Garfield. As Rita bore down on the Gulf Coast Wednesday night with nothing but traffic jams to take pictures of yet, cable news nonetheless found its "perfect storm." Jet Blue Flight 292 bound for New York developed a landing gear problem shortly after takeoff and had to make an emergency landing at LAX. The front landing gear was twisted at a 90-degree angle and it wasn't clear what would happen. Would the gear collapse? Would the plane veer off the runway at 300 miles per hour? Would the tires catch fire and ignite the fuselage, dooming 146 passengers and crew to an infernal death?
PAULA ZAHN: Jackie, I don't know about you. I've been doing this for almost 30 years. I can never remember a night like this when we're watching two major weather stories and the potential of a - a serious emergency landing on - on the West Coast all at the same time. We leave you with this picture once again of a plane carrying 139 - [OVERTALK]
BOB GARFIELD: That's the "perfect storm," the convergence of human concern and morbid attraction to calamity. It happens on the highways every day but seldom can we do our rubbernecking from our sofas in real time. But the twist here wasn't only in the landing gear. The twist, as Larry King observed on CNN, was media saturation.
LARRY KING: Another thing. Jet Blue is - an airliner that has live satellite channels, CNN being one of them. Would you imagine they have those channels on now in the plane?
BOB GARFIELD: As it turned out, the answer was "yes," until minutes before landing, when the TV monitors were shut down. And, as it turned out, that landing was perfect. No burning fuselage, no wreckage, no dead bodies. The question remains though, had the passengers been tuned in to observe the dramatic ending on live TV without so much as an escape slide deployed, would they have been disappointed? [MUSIC UP AND UNDER]
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