The major networks got a big surprise on Tuesday morning, when President Trump announced on Twitter at 8:44am that he was firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
NBC News immediately went to breaking news on Today, with Savannah Guthrie leading the coverage and bringing on Peter Alexander, who reported on the situation from Washington DC.
In total, four minutes of NBC News programming on Tuesday was devoted to the news, with Guthrie telling viewers at the close of Today they could find more information online, at MSNBC or when Nightly News aired on Tuesday evening.
Then at 9am, the network aired Megyn Kelly Today live in its entirety, despite the many lingering questions surrounding Tillerson’s dismissal. When after 9 am, Trump made his first comments about Rex, speaking from the White House lawn, NBC did not air those remarks.
Tillerson, who was formerly the billionaire CEO of Exxon, was fourth in line to the presidency after Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Orrin Hatch.
Real: NBC News did not interrupt Megyn Kelly Today (Megyn above with Dorit Kemsley on Tuesday) to update viewers on developments regarding the firing of Rex Tillerson
Fandom: Kelly, fresh off interviewing Vladmir Putin, also made no mention of Tillerson during the hour (Megyn doing a headphone giveaway to close the show)
Political matters: An interview with a Real Housewives cast members ran in two parts for 20 minutes while Trump was giving his first comments about Tillerson’s firing (pictured)
Megyn started her hour with a story that is very much in the news, sitting down with the mother of Parkland shooting victim Alyssa Alhadeff, who very publicly called on President Trump to do something about gun control after the massacre last month.
That was followed by a brief package on high school theater groups and then, Megyn spoke with Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Dorit Kemsley.
In a two-part interview that last nearly 20 minutes the women discussed their hair, bronzers and Kemsley’s new line of bathing suits.
At the same time, President Trump was on his way to Marine One, giving his remarks about the firing of Tillerson, but the NBC News team opted not to break way and cover that, choosing instead to keep airing an interview with a reality star.
The network also ran its NBC News logo throughout that interview at the bottom of the screen.
Megyn made absolutely no mention of Tillerson’s firing on the show, which an NBC rep confirmed was filmed live on Tuesday.
The show winded down with a brief segment where Megyn spoke with The Points Guy, a travel expert who gave tips about free upgrades.
And in the final moments, studio audience members got free headphones from Megyn’s giveaway boy, who wore an ‘I [heart] MK’ shirt.
Cut away: At 2pm, the network broke away from programming to show Tillerson’s remarks about his firing from the State Department with Andrea Mitchell (above) offering commentary
ABC and CBS did not cover the Tillerson news either during the 9am hour either, but those networks’ 9am hours are not run by their news division like NBC is, and both had syndicated programs on the air at the time.
Alexander actually told Guthrie that Marine One would soon be taking off and President Trump would possibly be making comments and taking questions at that time.
President Trump did just that, speaking at length before taking off for Joint Base Andrews.
‘Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time. We got along actually quite well but we disagreed on things. When you look at the Iran deal. I thought it was terrible. He thought it was okay,’ said President Trump.
‘I wanted to either break it or do something, he felt a little differently. So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well.’
He went on to state: ‘Rex is a very good man. I like Rex a lot. I appreciate his commitment and his service. I’ll be speaking to Rex over a long period of time.’
On NBC, a clip was being played at the same time showing Kemsley confronting her co-star Erika Girardi about her decision to not to wear underwear when in the presence of her husband.
The network’s west coast viewers did get a more coverage of Tillerson on Tuesday,m with Today editing the show to lead with the breaking news.
At 2pm, when Tillerson spoke, NBC News broke from programming to air his remarks later in the day with commentary from Lester Holt and Andrea Mitchell.