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MSNBC Criticized For Response To Terrorism Story

DAVID BAUDER

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ MSNBC spent considerable time Monday reporting on the aftermath of an attempted Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, but its executives didn't want to talk about why the story received little attention as it was breaking.

Competitors CNN and Fox News Channel gave much more extensive attention to the story on Christmas night as MSNBC stuck with taped programs on a murder mystery and environmental issues, along with an "undercover" report on the teenage sex trade.

MSNBC has been criticized in the past for failing to respond quickly to breaking news during off-hours, a choice that may complicate its efforts to be seen as a go-to news source. The network is revamping its daytime schedule to be more news-oriented than personality-driven, since the latter approach has proven to be a ratings failure.

On Christmas, an anchor did live cut-ins about once an hour to pass on news of the attempted terrorism, said Jeremy Gaines, network spokesman.

Fox mixed live coverage of the story Friday night with a taped year-end retrospective show with Bill O'Reilly. CNN devoted virtually all of its prime-time hours to the incident, its coverage anchored by Ali Velshi.

Neither Gaines nor Phil Griffin, MSNBC's top executive, would discuss the judgment call on Monday.

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