9/11 reporter tells his story
Sarah Hayner– Associate Producer
Today marks the 18th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. A day that forever lives in infamy, it is spent mourning the people that were tragically lost in the attack and being grateful for the ones that made it.
Bryan Glazer, current President and Executive Producer for World Satellite Television News and Media Relations, was a contributing correspondent for CNN in New York at the time of the attacks. Glazer tells how he came upon the tragic event and reported it.
“I was working with [name redacted for privacy], back then a super model, and we were doing a satellite media tour from Bryant Park, which is in the back of the New York City Library. ‘Joining us now is super model Kim Alexis, to tell us the latest in Hanes Hosiery fashions from the 7th on 6th fashion show during Fashion Week in New York City,’” Glazer recalled. “Well she says, ‘Chocolates and vineyards and strawberries are in.’ Then, ‘Oh my god, there goes a plane.’”
Glazer broadcasted live that day, anchoring from the top of the CNN building to show the world what was happening.
“I had camera crews on location,” Glazer said. “I was a former CNN (contributing) correspondent out of Los Angeles. I had left CNN to start my own business, but I still had relationships with them. I contacted CNN in Atlanta. I advised them that I had cameras and satellite connectivity, and they said go live to the bureau.”
“I went on the roof top of CNN, which is located at 8th Avenue and 34th Street, which is right across the street from Madison Square Garden, which is where the old CNN bureau was, and went live around the country,” Glazer said. “I was one of three people that were reporting live that day for CNN.”
The 9/11 terrorist attacks were unlike any event that Glazer had covered before.
“I had been a reporter in many markets across the country, including the Dallas Fort Worth area,” Glazer said. “I had been a reporter at FOX 4, which was CBS 4 at the time, when the crash of Delta 191 on August 25, 1985, happened. I had covered catastrophes, forest fires, plane crashes, mass shootings… I have covered an array of breaking news stories. None to this magnitude.”
Glazer describes how he felt being a reporter on that day.
“I was numb. I was more into doing my job than to feeling. I have been taught early on by my mentors in broadcasting that in a spot news situation you always must be voice of calm and control. From a journalistic stand point, if you’re the guy on the scene, then you get the story. I don’t think anybody knew the magnitude of that story until that second plane hit,” Glazer said.
During this time, New Yorkers were roaming the streets, on their way to work. He recalls the chaos that unfolded around him.
“As I was walking to CNN with all of our gear, there was pandemonium in the streets. People were stunned, they were lost and there were people that were walking from the World Trade Center, moving north uptown. They were referred to as the ‘Moon Men.’ They had white dust (that covered them), because of the explosions…People were trying to get into subway stations, and everything for the first few hours had been locked down.”
Glazer didn’t know that the seventh tower was going down until after it had already happened.
“There was maybe like 20 people on top of the rooftop at CNN-technicians, and editorial people, and everybody’s mouth dropped wide open…My back was to the World Trade Center, because the camera is pointing at my face…and I just froze for a second and I go, ‘oh my god, what happened?’, and I turned around and I saw that the other building had gone down.”
According to Glazer, there was a lot of misinformation reported on 9/11.
“There was a lot of information that day that was wrong. People were handing me three by five cards, with notes on them and as the day wore on, for example, (it was) being said that more than 1,500 (people were) walking wounded…on the island where the Statue of Liberty stands..,” Glazer said. “Looking back, there was a lot of misinformation being handed to me, from other people that were doing their best to do what they do, but in the end, 24 hours later, you realize that a lot of that stuff was misinformation. Accurate information is just so important.”
Glazer said that he did not lose anyone close to him. However, he could not contact his sister, and was left to imagine the worst.
“I couldn’t find my brother-in-law or my sister on the phone that day,” Glazer recalled. “They both worked down in the Wall Street area…I couldn’t find them for about four hours. And they finally answered, and that was a relief. I remember reporting that on television.”
Although Glazer didn’t lose any family members, there was one person that he had met before that died in the attack.
“I remember reporting that the New York City Fire Chief and his deputy were both killed at the World Trade Center,” Glazer said. “And I had met the New York City Fire Chief at another television production beforehand. So, I guess, I sort of knew him, but I didn’t know him.”
Glazer recalls how “bizarre” the whole experience was.
“It was a historic time,” Glazer recalled. “It wasn’t just that day, it was the days after until Michael Bloomberg became the mayor of New York City. It was the busiest and most bizarre news cycle that I have ever experienced. I’m a New Yorker. I watched the World Trade Center be built, and then there was a gaping hole in the skyline.”
Updated on 9/12/19: The story previously stated that Glazer witnessed the second tower go down. Corrected to seventh tower. A name was redacted from the third paragraph for privacy.