COMMENTS: New Hampshire Heats Up

Late breaking news about the health of the Vice President's heart headed both ABC's and NBC's newscast. Each started with a brief live report on Dick Cheney's irregular heartbeat before switching to regular taped packages. NBC's first produced report was a round-up on Thanksgiving holiday shopping and travel. ABC focused on New Hampshire for the Story of the Day, the cutting edge campaigning in the Republican primary field between Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani. On CBS, anchor Katie Couric too was in New Hampshire but she covered the Democratic side instead, kicking off with a sitdown with Hillary Rodham Clinton, for which she claimed an Exclusive.

All three networks filed on the weekend's feuding between the former Mayor of New York City and the former Governor of Massachusetts, although none by reporters actually in the Granite State. "Pick an issue," suggested ABC's John Berman (subscription required), "chances are Romney and Giuliani are trying to pick a fight." CBS' Byron Pitts listed them: whose record was tougher as a crimefighter; who was sounder fiscally; whose social policies were more akin to Rodham Clinton's; even "a shot at who made the worse political appointments." NBC's David Gregory concluded that the increased heat "is the latest sign that Giuliani no longer appears to be playing down the early voting states." He is trying to close Romney's 18-point lead in New Hampshire opinion polls, ABC's Berman observed: "The winner in a tit-for-tat exchange like this might just be everyone else in the race. Aides for John McCain say they are thrilled watching this street fight."

On CBS, anchor Couric's interview with Rodham Clinton was unconcerned about her positions on the issues. Couric asked about her "new more aggressive tone;" her reaction to Oprah Winfrey's entry on behalf of rival Barack Obama; and the possibility of disappointment if she happens to be defeated. "You have considered that possibility?" "No I have not." CBS followed up on the Rodham Clinton interview with Chip Reid on John Edwards' criticism of her: "Hell yes I am confrontational and I am not ashamed of it. We need a fighter in the White House…She continues to defend a system that does not work, that is broken, that is rigged and is corrupt." Mused Reid: "If you think of Edwards as a sunny candidate with a positive tone, things have changed."

Couric told us that Rodham Clinton represents the first of ten candidate interviews on CBS. On the Democratic side, besides Obama, Rodham Clinton and Edwards, Couric promised Joe Biden and Bill Richardson; among GOPers, besides Romney, Giuliani and McCain, she offers Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson. That means that if you are running for President from the House of Representatives, CBS counts you out. Sorry, Duncan Hunter, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo. Also consigned to the sidelines is one senator, Christopher Dodd. Only NBC supplemented Presidential coverage with the campaign for control of the Senate. With Trent Lott's resignation, six incumbent Republicans--in Colo, NM, Neb, Va, Miss, Idaho--will not run for reelection: "It is similar to what the Democrats went through after losing control in 1994," NBC's Gregory speculated, "a feeling that maybe the GOP does not have strength going into 2008."


You must be logged in to this website to leave a comment. Please click here to log in so you can participate in the discussion.