Despite Scott Pelley’s On-Air Promise, Conclusion of Republican Debate Didn’t Air in South Carolina

By Andrew Gauthier 

Wrapping up the first hour of the CBS News-National Journal Republican presidential debate on Saturday, CBS moderator Scott Pelley told viewers that most stations would switch to regularly scheduled programming while CBS-affiliates on the west coast and South Carolina–where the debate was held–would continue airing the final half-hour.

But that didn’t end up happening for South Carolina stations–a slight that angered many viewers in a state that has gone Republican in the past eight presidential elections.

“Due to a miscommunication between CBS News and its affiliates regarding the conclusion of the debate, we were not able to bring you the final thirty minutes live,” WSPA vice president and general manager Bob Romine said in a post on the station’s website Monday, adding that the last half-hour did not air in any market in South Carolina.


Romine’s apology carried extra weight since the debate took place at Wofford College, which is just a 10-minute drive from WSPA’s headquarters.

“The announcement at the conclusion of the debate coverage that South Carolina’s CBS stations would have access to a final half hour of debate not seen by the rest of the nation took WSPA and other stations by surprise,” Romine said.

As a make-good, a handful of CBS-affiliates re-aired the final half-hour of the debate at 7:30 p.m. on Monday and many stations have made the entire debate available on their websites.