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CNBC's Schacknow: Ford's Death And A Computer Crash

Remembering President Ford: Clearly a story for all audiences, but certainly one with economic and business implications. President Ford’s death recalled an economic era that was high on the Misery Index: a plunging stock market, oil embargoes, a move towards hyperinflation. As Senior Economics Correspondent Steve Liesman pointed out during our special coverage, these were largely problems that Mr. Ford inherited rather than created.

The news of President Ford’s death came overnight, making it the obvious lead for our morning show “Squawk Box”. At times like this, it’s always nice to be part of NBC, which provided plenty of material in terms of live reporter hits and contributions from Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams, in addition to our own coverage.

And our exclusive CNBC angles came rather quickly: the NYSE, Nasdaq, and NYMEX all had moments of silence. And we await word on whether and when the NYSE will shut down in honor of President Ford. It’s done so on the days of prior Presidential funerals, most recently following the death of Ronald Reagan in 2004.

I Hate When That Happens: Technologically speaking, the news business has never been more advanced. We can drag digitized video into a rundown with a mouse, where it will instantly be available for air. We can change the order of stories, or delete them, and have the teleprompter instantly update. We can create dekos (supers) on our PCs and have them on the air within seconds.

Unless the computer crashes.

You’ve had it happen at home or in your office, I’m sure. It happened to us today, though its primary effect was on the lining of our stomachs and not on air.

The new home sales figures were released at 10 am, showing that sales were up a greater than expected 3.4% last month. As Breaking News Producer, my job is to have the “deko” ready to go as soon as possible after I see the number. All went perfectly - I saw the number, typed it in, and it was ready, literally 7 seconds after the number was out.

But you never saw it. Why? The “deko browser” (the computer that generates the dekos) decided that this was a perfect moment to crash. Argh!

Luckily, the impact on viewers was minimal. “Morning Call” Anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera introduced the segment as planned, and Senior Economics Correspondent Steve Liesman told viewers the number and its implications. A minute or so later, the hamster got back on the little wheel and the computer came back.

Computer crashes happen, but we deal with them. A call to tech support, a few antacids, and we’re good to go.

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  • Sue Herera is a founding member of CNBC, helping to launch the network in 1989. She is co-anchor of "Power Lunch."

  • "Power Lunch" & “Nightly Business Report” Co-Anchor

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Kenny Polcari