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CNN stays on taped programming after story blows through newsroom

NEW YORK - CNN switched to its scheduled taped programming early Saturday even though a major story - downtown Atlanta's first recorded tornado - had literally blown right through its news headquarters.

The storm shattered windows in the CNN.com newsroom and the network's library late Friday. A computer was missing after it was apparently sucked through a window. No one at CNN was hurt, a spokeswoman said.

The storm caused damage and injuries, but no fatalities in the Atlanta area.

CNN started covering the story on its doorstep shortly before 10:30 p.m., but at midnight switched to tape of Larry King interviewing Tori Spelling for its normal overnight schedule, until resuming news live at 7 a.m. Saturday.

'This is an important story and we gave it appropriate coverage,' CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson said. 'We fully covered the storm and the extent of the damage within our regularly scheduled programming. There was no need for pre-emption.'

Rival MSNBC also showed taped programming during the overnight hours, but did occasional live reports about the storm.

CNN monitored the story during the night, then sent reporters Cal Perry and T.J. Holmes onto the streets early Saturday to report on the damage. Anchor Betty Nguyen held up a piece of debris that she said was part of the building's roof.

CNN spent considerably more time on the story Saturday morning than the other networks did. When CNN covered a briefing of Atlanta officials, Fox News Channel was on a financial news program and MSNBC showed a tape of Keith Olbermann's 'Countdown.'

CNN briefly switched to taped programming again at noon Saturday because of new storms in the area. The network didn't want to risk being knocked off the air while in live programming, Robinson said.