Under the influence

Brokaw has a "tired and emotional" moment

This morning, Tom Brokaw went on Morning Joe and seemed a little out of it (you can watch the video here). We were concerned when it was reported that he was then “rushed” to a nearby hospital. But Brokaw soon explained, via Twitter, what happened:

Hey, it happens to the best of us journalists. For example, Diane Sawyer!

Gawker had the story when this happened (the morning after President Obama’s inauguration) which includes a correction noting that Sawyer was NOT intoxicated on TV—she was just beyond exhausted after ABC kept her on the air for 24 hours straight.

The same cannot be said for Annie Stensrud, Minnesota’s KEYC weekend anchor:

That’s the last on-air segment Stensrud did for KEYC. A few weeks after the December 2011 broadcast, she was arrested for drunk driving. She pleaded guilty to third-degree DWI. Stensrud resurfaced last month to explain to another Minnesota station that the broadcast was the result of a bad reaction to anti-anxiety medication.

And then there’s Tommy Woodroffe, British Navy Lt. Cmdr turned BBC radio broadcaster, who gave the play-by-play of the Royal Navy review in 1937. As you’ll hear, Woodroffe was very excited about how well-lit the fleet was… until around 3:17, when the fleet apparently disappears:

(this being the BBC and 1937, the sound quality isn’t the best. Here’s a helpful transcript.)

Apparently, former Navy Lt. Commander Woodroffe was friends with several of the servicemen in the review and had a few drinks with them just before going on the air. For this, the BBC suspended him for a week.

Ah, well. We can’t all be as good as Will McAvoy, The Newsroom’s fictional anchor extraordinaire, who was able to get through the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death flawlessly despite being high on Vicodin and pot cookies at the time:

Print journalists have a long boasted about their ability to work well while intoxicated. It seems that only the fictional broadcasters are able to keep pace.

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Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison. Tags: , ,