On the evening of September 25, 1983, the American Broadcasting Company, known as ABC, was broadcasting the latest episode of Hardcastle & McCormick titled "Man In A Glass House". The episode aired at 8:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and was scheduled to air for one hour. At approximately 8:52 PM, ABC News interrupted the episode with a special news bulletin concerning the launch of nuclear missiles by the Soviet Union. The following is a transcript taken directly from a videotape made at the time of the event and covers the period of time from approximately 8:52 PM EDT to 9:03 PM when the Emergency Broadcasting System took over.
8:52:12 PM EDT
The airing of Hardcastle & McCormick abruptly cuts to the words ABC News Special Report along with a voice saying “We interrupt our regular program schedule to bring you the following special report from ABC News in Washington. Here is Ted Koppel.”
8:52:23 PM EDT
The image switches to the ABC News Studios in Washington D.C.. Reporter Ted Koppel, who had anchored the ABC Sunday News earlier that evening and was scheduled to anchor Nightline at 11:35 PM the next night, is present. Several staffers are visible in the background at work stations.
"We have just been notified by the White House that an announcement involving a matter of national importance is about to be made. We do not know anything about the nature of this announcement but I understand that we will be going to the White House press briefing room very shortly an- (He is interrupted suddenly to listen to his earpiece) Ladies and Gentlemen, it appears that we will now be cutting to the White House for this important announcement."
8:53.40 PM EDT
ABC cuts to feed of Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speakes in the White House press room, at 8:53 p.m. EDT, giving the announcement of the incoming Soviet missile attack on the United States, and his subsequent collapse after stepping from the podium. The scene cuts back to ABC studios in Washington at 8:59 p.m. EDT; sobs and yelling are heard in the background along with a voice screaming "No, please God no! Those bastards actually did it!" , and Koppel sits there in stunned silence. Half a minute passes and a voice in the background shouts, "Koppel, you're on!" Koppel faces the camera, tries to speak but pauses to gather his thoughts. He swallows and then speaks.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, as unimaginable as it may seem, it appears that what we just heard was correct; the day everyone has feared since man split the atom and used it on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945 has apparently arrived; the Doomsday Clock has officially struck midnight. Ever since the events that had helped us win World War II, the secrets of nuclear energy has had the potential for both bad and good purposes... (pauses) ...but tonight however, we're now witnessing the worst of our fears realized. (Koppel stops briefly to listen to his earpiece) Ladies and Gentlemen, I am now receiving word that the mayor's office, speaking for Mayor Marion Barry, who is currently being hospitalized, has declared an immediate mandatory evacuation of the entire Washington, DC area and we will be doing so as soon as we cut off to let the Emergency Broadcast System take over. So before I go, and this being most likely to be my last broadcast for quite a long while, I want to say to ALL of you watching tonight that it has been an honor working with ABC to bringing you the latest news for the past 20 years of my career as a television journalist, and I ask you, whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever your religious beliefs, I ask for you to pray to God to protect the human race and to guide them throughout these very turbulent times that will most likely be in store for years to come. And if I don't make it to you in time then I want to say to my loving wife, children, and all my friends and family that I love you all so very much and I hope that you will continue to live long, prosperous lives even if and when I'm gone. And to the people of the United States of America, may God indeed help us all..." [In the brief moment before the signal cuts off and the ABC logo appears, crying and yelling is again heard in the background.]"
9:03:01 PM EDT
The image vanishes and is replaced with the Emergency Broadcasting System.