But TV had hours to fill.
Children from the school were interviewed. It was a questionable decision for which the networks took heat from media critics and viewers alike. But the decision lay more in the hands of the willing parents (who were present), and there was value in hearing what these tiny witnesses had to say.
‘‘We had to lock our doors so the animal couldn’t get in,’’ said one little boy, his words painting a haunting picture.
In the absence of hard facts, speculation was a regular fallback. Correspondents and other ‘‘experts’’ persisted in diagnosing the shooter, a man none of them had ever met or even heard of until hours earlier.
CNN’s ‘‘Piers Morgan Tonight’’ scored an interview with a former classmate of Lanza’s — with an emphasis on ‘‘former.’’
‘‘I really only knew him closely when we were very, very young, in elementary school together,’’ she said.
Determined to unlock Lanza’s personality, Morgan asked the woman if she ‘‘could have ever predicted that he would one day flip and do something as monstrous as this?’’
‘‘I don’t know if I could have predicted it,’’ she replied, struggling to give Morgan what he wanted. ‘‘I mean, there was something ‘off’ about him.’’
The larger implications of the tragedy were broached throughout the coverage — not least by Obama.
‘‘We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,’’ he said, which may have gladdened proponents of stricter gun laws.
But CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes noted, ‘‘There’s often an assumption that after a horrific event like this, it will spark a fierce debate on the issue. But in recent years, that hasn’t been the case.’’
Appearing on ‘‘The O'Reilly Factor’’ Friday night, Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera voiced his own solution.
‘‘I want an armed cop at every school,’’ he said.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier .