CNN’s live feed briefly went off the air on Thursday evening following a bomb threat being called in to the New York office of the news network.
CNN anchor Don Lemon, the host of “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” tweeted about the evacuation at 9:52 p.m. local time, informing his followers that the show was forced to temporarily go to taped coverage as employees evacuated the building.
Once Lemon was safely on the street, he began broadcasting via his cell phone, the Skype app, and a wireless internet connection, updating viewers to say that the New York Police Department was on the scene and searching the building.
As part of the investigation, the block surrounding the Time Warner building was cordoned off, backing up traffic in Midtown Manhattan.
Lemon said that the call originated from “somewhere down South,” around 9:47 p.m. and that the building was completely evacuated by 10:30 p.m. local time. According to Lemon, the caller said that there were five bombs in the Time Warner Center where CNN’s New York office is located.
The Time Warner building contains far more than CNN’s offices. Several restaurants, shops, and an event space are also in the same area.
“We are literally under attack. ….We have to take these threats seriously, whether they are legitimate or not,” CNN National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd said when asked by Lemon about the seriousness of the threat.
Vinograd added that it isn’t the first time CNN has gotten a prank call, but that a full investigation has to happen regardless.
After sweeping the building, the NYPD gave the ‘all-clear’ for employees to return to work around 11:35 p.m. No devices were found during the search.
Employees went into the building to grab cameras and CNN returned to a standard broadcast at 11:45 p.m. with Lemon and CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz recapping what happened while standing on the street.
“Some might think this is an extreme response, but this is the world we live in now,” Prokupecz said.
CNN was also exacuated in October after an explosive device was discovered inside a package. The package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, who now works as a contributor for MSNBC.