Thoughts On The Ted Stevens Story (updated)

Update: 11.53 am Pacific: CBS: Spokesman confirms Stevens has died in crash

In a world saturated with instant news, the fact that 16 hours after an airplane crash we still didn’t know whether or not former Sen. Ted Stevens had died is remarkable.

When I noted this on Twitter, the responses were immediate and predictable: the area is remote, the weather is bad. True and true.

However, if those two factors were true impediments to information flow, we would not know any details, such as the consistent (and official) reports that five people have died and that there have been “good Sams” on site since last night.

We have an amazing amount of detail, but nothing about Stevens:

Hayes said the Guard was called to the area about 20 miles north of Dillingham around 7 p.m. Monday after a passing aircraft saw the downed plane. … The National Weather Service reported rain and fog, with low clouds and limited visibility early Tuesday. Conditions ranged from visibility of about 10 miles reported at Dillingham shortly before 7 p.m. Monday to 3 miles, with rain and fog later.

At least two crash victims were treated Tuesday morning by military rescuers, Guard spokeswoman Kalei Brooks Rupp said. She said a team of Good Samaritans hiked into the crash site Monday night and provided medical aid until rescuers arrived.

Reportedly, officials with radios that have more power than cellphones arrived after midnight:

he National Guard said an HC-130 and HH-60 helicopter were encountering inclement weather on the way and had difficultly navigating through Lake Clark Pass. They were still en route to the scene at about 11:30 p.m. and expected to arrive after midnight.

Why the blackout on Stevens and, reportedly, former NASA Chief Sean O’Keefe?

I totally understand the need to contact family members before the press. But not even that explanation is being reported by the National Transportation Safety Board, which confirms five are dead. And the press, bless their hearts, aren’t telling us what the NTSB said when/if asked about Stevens and O’Keefe.

Stevens was riding in a GCI corporate aircraft, en route to a GCI-owned lodge: “GCI is an Anchorage-based provider of telephone, cable TV, Internet and wireless services across the state.” This is the second crash of a GCI airplane in this area; another happened in 2002. In that crash, the pilot was killed.

MORE at WiredPen, where I dissect CBS coverage.