All of the cable all-news networks ran wall-to-wall coverage of the death of Anna Nicole Smith Thursday afternoon, and MSNBC was the first network to report that Smith had passed away.
Anchor Rita Cosby delivered the news at 3:49 p.m. (EST), during an interview with Smith’s attorney, Ron Rale.
A few minutes later, Cosby boasted about the “MSNBC exclusive,” which drew the ire of Don Imus, one of her MSNBC colleagues, Friday morning.
“She [Cosby] should be put to sleep,” Imus said on his radio show, which is simulcast on MSNBC.
“You would think they had caught Osama bin-Laden,” added Imus’s producer, Bernie McGuirk.
Smith was one of the first celebrities to have a reality show on cable. E! Entertainment Television launched a half-hour series starring Smith in August 2002. It debuted with a 4.1 rating Aug. 11, setting a new ratings record for the network.