But don't expect to see the grim playback anytime soon on ABC. The network's news division has become the first broadcast outlet to put the kibosh on the constant replay of images that have seared themselves into the American psyche over the past week.
ABC News President David Westin issued the edict to his staffers on Monday. Citing sensitivity and concern for survivors and the victims' families, Westin said the footage will only be run with his permission in special situations that are vital to a report. "Gratuitous use of the video is inappropriate," he said.
"I was concerned that it was becoming like wallpaper," Westin tells the Washington Post in an interview that came after he visited "ground zero," the site of the catastrophe. "It's probably the most powerful image of our time. There's a temptation in television to always go to the most powerful image. But it was playing a lot. I was concerned not only for adults but for children."
ABC News anchor Peter Jennings announced the ban on Monday's evening broadcast.
The move comes amid complaints from viewers and television critics that TV news organizations are now on the verge of exploiting the tragedy to attract audiences at the expense of the emotional health of adults and kids who might be watching.
The graphic images of the planes hitting the World Trade Center have been inserted time and again by networks into the background during guest interviews, on split screens during government news conferences, behind on-air ads promoting its coverage--that's in addition to the regular review of the disaster from all angles via video captured by horrified onlookers at the scene.
"I don't think it's necessary to tell the story," says Westin. "It's enough already."
While ABC is the only net to issue an official moratorium on the footage, other broadcasters have also toned down the number of replays. CBS, Fox News, NBC and MSNBC have all issued directives cutting back on the grisly footage, saying they plan to use the images only when reports necessitate them.
An NBC rep says they've "dramatically" scaled back replays because the "story has moved on."
Meanwhile CNN, which has undergone a complete overhaul to keep from losing more viewers to Fox News, was still screening the Twin Tower attacks a number of times on Tuesday. However, the network has released a statement saying, "CNN has cut back on our use of that video and will use it judiciously in the future."
And anyone doubting that the TV wallpapering of the grisly images hasn't changed lives, just ask the cameramen who shot them.
Two french filmmakers, brothers Jules and Gedeon Naudet, were making a documentary on firefighters and captured the only shot of the first hijacked plane slamming into the North Tower. They say they're so traumatized by last week's tragedy they may never complete their film.
The brothers tell Reuters that several of the firefighters they had interviewed and become friends with were among those still missing in the wreckage.
Says one of the brothers, "We've lost too many friends."