ABC, which on May 14 was so excited about the John Edwards endorsement of Barack Obama that its 6:30 PM feed of World News went live to Obama introducing Edwards -- complete with a Bruce Spingsteen song as Edwards bounded on stage -- on Tuesday night cut into Boston Legal at 10:08 PM EDT/9:08 PM CDT to go live for 14 straight minutes of a triumphant Barack Obama at a rally in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (CBS stuck with Without a Trace and NBC with Law & Order: SVU, though both ran Special Reports earlier to report Obama had secured the Democratic nomination.) After cutting away from Obama, ABC aired just over two minutes of excerpts from Hillary Clinton's earlier non-concession address and then a minute-and-a-half from Republican John McCain.
Anchor Charles Gibson trumpeted at the start of the Special Report:
You're looking at a picture from St. Paul, Minnesota, the Xcel Center, in Minnesota, Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle, have just been introduced to a rather raucous rally there to greet him on what is an historic night. On this night, June 3rd, 2008 an African-American has been nominated to be, or will be nominated to be, candidate of a major party for President of the United States....It is just over 50 years since America officially desegregated its schools. And now, an African-American nominated for President.
At 9:00 PM EDT, NBC's Brian Williams declared Obama the “presumptive nominee” and hailed it as “the stuff of history tonight.” Tim Russert agreed: “History's the most important and operative word, Brian, the first time a major political party in the United States of America has nominated an African-American...”
A few minutes later, CBS's Katie Couric announced: “This is a pretty historic day.”
My May 14 NewsBusters item, “Nets Excited by 'Major' Edwards Endorsement to 'Create One America,'” recounted:
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, complete 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."