November 22, 2005

CNN explains ‘X’ glitch over Dick Cheney’s face

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - CNN apologized on Tuesday and
offered a rare explanation from its control booth for a
technical glitch many viewers failed to notice -- a large "X"
the network flashed over Vice President Dick Cheney's face.

The wayward graphic, which CNN said lasted for about
one-seventh of a second, appeared during the network's live
coverage of Cheney's speech on Monday addressing critics of the
Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq.

Word of the snafu quickly surfaced on the Internet,
including still photos of the image posted by online columnist
Matt Drudge, along with a story suggesting that some who saw
the momentary "X" thought it might have been deliberate.

CNN, a unit of Time Warner Inc., later issued a mea culpa
saying an investigation by senior management concluded "this
was a technical malfunction, not an issue of operator error"
and expressing regret for the incident.

The network followed up with a special on-air segment
during its "CNN Live Today" broadcast, in which anchor Daryn
Kagan joined the network's technical manager, Steve Alperin, in
the control room to offer a fuller explanation.

The "X" image, a place-holding marker used by technicians
to cue up graphics, is not supposed to be visible to viewers
but was inadvertently projected onto the screen by a
malfunction in a "switcher" device, they explained.

"So, for all the conspiracy theories out there," Kagan
said, " ... that's not what this is about. It's a computer bug
that people deal with everyday. It's just that ours was in
front of millions of people."

A spokesman for the vice president said Cheney had no
comment on the incident.