CNN Airs Bush Speech Prematurely; NBC Stage Manager Cued President Early

By Brian 

CNN and some West Coast affiliates cut to live video of President Bush in the Oval Office prematurely when he was cued early by an NBC stage manager. Viewers watched Bush recite a line from the speech, then look off-camera. The video is already on YouTube.

Drudge quotes Wolf Blitzer, who told viewers that “the network pool inadvertently went to the president as he is rehearsing.”

NBC ran the pool for tonight’s speech. In an e-mail to TVNewser, CNN D.C. bureau chief David Bohrman explained: “Their stage manager at the White House was listening the the wrong countdown and cued the President early.”

The internal “pool note” clearly explained that the “slate” with the Presidential seal would be kept on the pool screen until just five seconds before the beginning of the address. Instead, the slate was removed prematurely.

> Update: 9:36pm: A tipster adds: “I work for another network and was in on the pool conference call to cue the President. There was a lot of confusion when the slate came down earlier than expected and no one knew whether or not the President was starting for real. It was an honest mistake on CNN’s part and shouldn’t be construed as anything more.”

> Update: 10:21pm: A Denver insider writes: “Many affiliates across the country took the network pool feed during their newscasts. West coast stations were in their 5pm newscasts. Mountain time zone stations were in their 6pm newscasts. I work at a Denver affiliate, where we watched at least two stations in this market show the ‘rehearsal,’ and then quickly dump out. When the network pool feed says they are going to drop the slate and go – we believe them!”