COMMENTS: Granite State Shake-up

The voters of New Hampshire were the Story of the Day--those on the Democratic side anyway. They defied the projections of opinion pollsters and the conventional wisdom of political pundits to give Hillary Rodham Clinton a victory in the first primary of Campaign 2008. Campaign coverage dominated the nightly news, occupying 54% (31 min out of 57) of the three-network newshole. Specifically, Rodham Clinton herself occupied center stage. She granted post-victory interviews to CBS anchor Katie Couric and ABC anchor Charles Gibson from her suburban New York home. NBC anchor Brian Williams passed, jetting out to the Consumer Electronics trade show in Las Vegas instead, where he unveiled the relaunch of the NBC Nightly News Website.

Given the triviality of the topics anchors ABC's Gibson and CBS' Couric chose to discuss with Rodham Clinton, NBC's Williams was probably wise to pass on the one-on-one and head off to Nevada. NBC had Today anchor Meredith Vieira handle the chores instead, soundbites from which appeared in Andrea Mitchell's report. Of the six questions Couric posed to Rodham Clinton one was on her optimism, another was on her emotional state, a third was on her personal reserve, a fourth was about her "unwavering certitude" and a fifth concerned her lack of humility. Gibson's questions were less directly personal but no more substantive: "You did not expect what happened yesterday did you?""What was going on in the Clinton suite last night as the results came in?"

Gibson managed to obtain one insight into how long the primary season will last. "Do you think February 5th is decisive?" "Well right now I do."


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