Trumpeting the “major endorsement” from John Edwards for Barack Obama, the day after Obama was trounced by 40 points in West Virginia all three broadcast network evening newscasts led Wednesday night with the “dramatic” announcement of the “political prize” that gives Obama a “major boost.” Katie Couric returned at the end of the 6:30 PM EST CBS Evening News feed to reiterate “our top story tonight” as she effused over live video of Edwards speaking at the rally: “John Edwards endorses Barack Obama, saying he's one man who knows in his heart that it's time to create one America, not two.”
ABC was so excited that its 6:30 PM feed of World News went live at about 6:40 PM to Grand Rapids, Michigan for 90 seconds of Obama introducing Edwards, compete with a Bruce Spingsteen song as Edwards bounded on stage. Gibson then acknowledged:
Timed for maximum exposure, timed to coincide with the evening newscasts, timed to give Barack Obama a needed boost after his bad defeat yesterday in West Virginia. George Stephanopoulos, this is the kind of publicity that you can't buy.
Indeed, no need to pay for it when ABC News is eager to give it to you for free.
Gibson had teased his show: “Tonight, political prize. Barack Obama win a major endorsement from John Edwards.” Couric had hailed “a major endorsement for Barack Obama” before asserting “Obama took back the spotlight this evening dramatically when he won an endorsement both candidates wanted badly.” On NBC, Brian Williams touted: “Tonight, the campaign of Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination has received a major boost.”
The network newscast producers, anchors and reporters were tame Wednesday night compared to their giddiness the day Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama. For a refresher on that night, check my January 28 NewsBusters posting, “'Mystique' Means 'Audacity of Hope' Has 'Rendezvous with Destiny,'” which recounted:
The broadcast network anchors and reporters were almost as giddy as Barack Obama over liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy's endorsement of the presidential candidate. ABC, CBS and NBC all led Monday night with it and ABC's David Wright adopted campaign slogans as he enthused about how "today the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. The Kennedy clan anointed Barack Obama a son of Camelot." CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric teased, "Passing the torch: Barack Obama is tapped as the candidate to continue the Kennedy legacy." NBC's Lee Cowan, who earlier this month conceded "it's almost hard to remain objective" when covering Obama, showed he also has a soft spot for the Kennedys as he radiated over how "the endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar." Viewers then got a soundbite of Kennedy yelling during the event at American University.
(Later, on Nightline, with "New Son of Camelot" on screen over video of Obama and Ted Kennedy, anchor Terry Moran trumpeted the "new son of Camelot. Ted and Caroline Kennedy pass the torch to Barack Obama to carry the legacy of JFK." Moran soon hailed how "the political world was transfixed by the spectacle of the most powerful Democratic family of the 20th century christening a new torch bearer for the 21st." David Wright repeated his "the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny" line before championing the "merging ideals from two different eras" as "Obama is now an adopted son of Camelot.")
Seemingly relaying the perspective of the press corps more than the public at large, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams led by contending: "It's been 45 years since a Kennedy has been in the White House, and yet because of the American fascination with the family name, and the family business of politics, the Kennedy name still has the power to grab the attention of millions of Americans."
Highlights from the Wednesday, May 14 ABC, CBS and NBC newscast coverage of the endorsement of Barack Obama by John Edwards:
ABC's World News:
CHARLES GIBSON, TEASE: Tonight, political prize. Barack Obama win a major endorsement from John Edwards. Will it help Obama in his quest for support from white, working-class voters?
GIBSON LED: Good evening. We have a live picture to show you right now, from Grand Rapids, Michigan. A Barack Obama campaign rally, where John Edwards is about to take stage and endorse Barack Obama. Edwards flew to Grand Rapids, arriving moments ago. His is a major endorsement sought by both Obama and Hillary Clinton. We will go to the rally momentarily when the speaking begins.
AFTER COVERAGE OF THE EARTHQUAKE IN CHINA, A PIECE FROM DAVID WRIGHT ON THE ENDORSEMENTAND LIVER COVERAGE OF THE RALLY, GIBSON OBSERVED: Timed for maximum exposure, timed to coincide with the evening newscasts, timed to give Barack Obama a needed boost after his bad defeat yesterday in West Virginia. George Stephanopoulos, this is the kind of publicity that you can't buy.
CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC, TEASE: Tonight , a major endorsement for Barack Obama from former rival John Edwards.
COURIC LED: And good evening, everyone. Well, Hillary Clinton didn't get to enjoy her landslide win in West Virginia very long at all. Barack Obama took back the spotlight this evening dramatically when he won an endorsement both candidates wanted badly -- John Edwards.
COURIC, AT VERY END OF NEWSCAST: And once again, our top story tonight: John Edwards endorses Barack Obama, saying he's one man who knows in his heart that it's time to create one America, not two.
NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS, TEASE: On the broadcast here tonight, a big endorsement this evening for Barack Obama
WILLIAMS LED: Tonight, the campaign of Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination has received a major boost. John Edwards, former North Carolina Senator, former presidential and vice presidential candidate, is endorsing Barack Obama for President. He informed Senator Clinton of his decision today by phone. Edwards got 7 percent of the vote last night in West Virginia. Interesting because he's not in the running anymore. But it does show support for him still out there, support that Obama now wants to convert in his attempt to put this race away.