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KCBS reporter Serene Branson 'scared, nervous, confused' by her Grammy night emergency

February 18, 2011 |  6:42 am

Serene Branson said she's troubled by the viral video that's suddenly made her famous. On Friday morning, the KCBS-TV Channel 2 reporter appeared on "The Early Show" to describe what happened the night of the Grammys, when she slurred her words during a live telecast -– a moment that's since been viewed across the world online.

She said that while she stood outside the Staples Center on Sunday night, reporting on the results of the awards show, her vision was already blurry and her head aching, but she just thought she was tired. As soon as she opened her mouth, she recalled, "I thought, 'This is more than being tired. This is terribly wrong.'"

Branson was trying to talk about the night's win for country stars Lady Antebellum, but she ended up speaking gibberish. The camera quickly pulled away from her, she said, and as soon as she was no longer on live, she dropped the microphone and felt "wobbly." Her cheek and hands had gone numb, she said. Immediately after the incident, she was swarmed by three photographers and the field producer, who called paramedics. After she had been checked and ruled stable, she said, the paramedics asked if she wanted to go to the hospital or go home. "It was late," she said Friday. "I was scared. Nervous. Confused. Exhausted. In an evening dress in the back of an ambulance. I said, 'I just want to go home.'"

She said that when she drove to work the following morning, "I felt hung over."

Dr. Neil Martin, chief of neurosurgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, evaluated her and diagnosed her with a migraine aura, which mimics the symptoms of a stroke. "It's as if there's a wave that's shutting down functions in the brain over a period of minutes," he said Friday on "The Early Show." Though Branson had never suffered a migraine before, she said her mother recalled having them when she was younger.

It wasn't until very recently that Branson saw the online footage of her attack. "My friend said something about seeing it on the news, and I went 'the news?'" she said. "And even at that point I said, 'Gosh, I hope it doesn’t make it on YouTube.'"

The incident has been seen by millions on YouTube. "The most popular viral videos tend to be things that appeal to our humanity -- to the best of us or the worst of us," said Eric Garland, chief executive of the online media analysis company Big Champagne. During an interview on Thursday, Garland explained that local newscaster gaffes often go viral because of simple schadenfreude, but in Branson's case, "most of us watch with empathy, fascination, and fear."

"She just keeps going and going as if expecting that actual words will eventually show themselves if she keeps putting in the effort," Garland said. "And we, as an audience, watch it over and over half expecting the same thing."

Branson admitted to feeling a little embarrassed about all the attention. (She is also scheduled to appear on "The Talk" on Friday.) And she confessed that she was nervous about going back to work. Still, she said, "I'm feeling great. A little tired. This week's been a little exhausting. But I'm feeling like myself again."

For more on Branson's recovery, read Greg Braxton's story here.

-- Melissa Maerz

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