How the Nets Covered the Edwards Endorsement of Obama

By Chris Ariens 

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The timing of tonight’s John Edwards endorsement of Barack Obama, in the middle of the 6:30 live feed of the evening network newscasts, created a dilemma for the broadcasters: take it live or turn it around.

Here’s how ABC, CBS, and NBC worked it out:

• ABC — World News began with a live picture with Charlie Gibson delivering the news of the endorsement saying, “we’ll go to the rally momentarily when the speaking begins.” He then turned to the earthquake aftermath in China. At 6:36pmET, Gibson was joined by David Wright at the event in Michigan and George Stephanopoulos in Washington. Including the Wright set up piece, ABC spent nearly six minutes on the story. “Timed for maximum exposure. Timed to coincide with the evening newscasts,” said Gibson. For the later feeds, Gibson led with the news including a short soundbite from Obama and the longer endorsement soundbite from Edwards.

• CBS — at 6:30ET Katie Couric led with the story with correspondent Dean Reynolds live in Grand Rapids. It was not treated so much as a live news event, but rather as a backdrop for their lead story. For the later feeds, Couric’s follow-up Q&A with Reynolds occurred while Obama was speaking, then at the end of the West Coast feed (around 6:56pmPT), Couric repeated the news paraphrasing Edwards’ endorsement of Obama.

• NBC — at 6:30pmET Brian Williams also led with the story with correspondent Lee Cowan in Grand Rapids, but with cross-talk only. The updated version of Nightly News had Cowan using an endorsement soundbite from Edwards.

After the jump, how one cable network covered…or didn’t cover…the endorsement.

On FNC, as the network took a live picture of the event, Brit Hume said, “This is what the Obama people planned and they have a hit now, while the evening news is still on the air.” Of the cable news networks, FNC spent the least amount of time on the event. By our count, 36 seconds on video, which was voiced over by Hume and his panel.

Related: B&C’s John Eggerton also noticed that not only did Edwards endorse Obama, he endorsed Stephen Colbert, too…