The three evening newscasts were each expanded to an hour Thursday night following a busy news day that included the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, shot down near the Russia-Ukraine border, and the launch of Israel's ground offensive in Gaza following 10 days of heavy violence there.
Per TVNewser; ABC's George Stephanopoulos was the only broadcast anchor still on the air when news of the ground invasion broke at approximately 4 p.m. ET. "We're just getting reports now from our Hamish MacDonald that Israeli military confirms to ABC news that the ground phase of the war in Gaza has indeed begun," Stephanopoulos said. "Another huge crisis escalating at the same time as we're getting all of these reports of the downed airliner."
The Malaysia Airlines jet flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down along the Ukraine/Russia border Thursday morning. Anderson Cooper quickly took over coverage for CNN's John Berman.
Fox News Channel national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported on the matter from the Pentagon. CBS News' Major Garrett, Bob Orr and Jeff Pegues reported from D.C. ABC News' Martha Raddatz, Jonathan Karl and Jim Avila contributed to network coverage. Thursday's World News aired an extended broadcast to cover the crash from 6:30-7:30 p.m. with David Muir anchoring. Brian Williams took over for Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie at 12:59 p.m. on NBC.
Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed Wednesday's killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, was told by NBC executives to leave Gaza Thursday. According to an NBC source, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by "security concerns" as Israel prepared a ground invasion.