Images of a distant war spilled into the living rooms of America Sunday, a day usually dominated by quiet afternoons watching football or old movies.
The day's playoffs and Westerns were interrupted by footage of a very different kind of battle: video clips of U.S. Patriot missiles streaking into the night skies over Saudi Arabia or harried TV crews donning gas masks in the desert kingdom as air-raid sirens wailed in the background.CBS interrupted its broadcast of the New York-San Francisco National Football Conference playoff to show what it said were clips of two incoming Iraqi Scud missiles being shot down over Saudi Arabia by Patriot ground-to-air missiles.
"There's one. Boom. Down goes the Scud," said CBS anchorman Dan Rather. "Now watch. Right-hand part of your screen. Coming up. Boom. Down goes the second Scud."
So it was for TV watchers on day five of the gulf war, who once again saw the blurred, impressionistic images of Baghdad's skies streaked with anti-aircraft fire.
It was as if Orson Welles's 1938 radio broadcast adaptation of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" had come to life.
"The capital city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is apparently under attack by Iraqi missiles," reported CNN correspondent John Sweeney, who described the skies as "literally ablaze with missiles."