COMMENTS: Covering a Story that has not Happened Yet

As usual on a Tuesday in the Presidential primary season, the nightly newscasts were caught in the odd position of reporting on a story without knowing what had happened. The polls were still open in the Republican primary in Florida at the news hour. All three networks led with the vote as the Story of the Day--but all they could do was speculate about the implications of results that were still undecided. All three concurred, however, that the key contest was between John McCain and Mitt Romney, with Rudolph Giuliani and Mike Huckabee consigned to the sidelines.

NBC kicked off with Ron Allen filing a portmanteau report from Romney's campaign, handing off to soundbites from Kelly O'Donnell with the McCain camp and John Yang with Giuliani. Allen zeroed in on immigration as McCain's key vulnerability in Romney's eyes. ABC assigned all of its coverage to John Berman (embargoed link). He found Romney "implying McCain is weak on the economy and McCain implying Romney is weak on character." CBS, as usual, adopted a wheel format, with anchor Katie Couric introducing first Jeff Greenfield (no link) on Giuliani then Kelly Cobiella (no link) with McCain, rounding out at Romney HQ with Byron Pitts (no link). Pitts agreed that for Romney "this primary is about one issue--the economy" and concluded with the bleak assessment that if most voters believe the economy is "in bad shape that is good news, encouraging news for Romney."

CBS' Cobiella found McCain "in an unusual position for the straight talker--on the attack" and her colleague Pitts repeated Romney's complaints about McCain's "kitchen sink strategy: throw everything at us and see what sticks." Pitts pointed out that Romney had outspent McCain by an eight-to-one margin. NBC's Allen added that Romney's get out the vote effort had an edge while McCain, NBC's O'Donnell countered, was relying on the endorsements of Gov Charlie Crist and Sen Mel Martinez.

As for Giuliani, CBS' Greenfield performed a post-mortem even before the results were in. As factors in Giuliani's fall from frontrunner status, Greenfield pinpointed an improvement in Iraq, which revived McCain's standing; a decline in the economy, which helped Romney; and a "barrage of personally damaging stories," which harmed Giuliani himself. NBC's Yang noted that "for the first time" Giuliani "seemed to express doubts" about his strategy of skipping the small early primary states to focus on Florida.

So what is next? NBC's Allen asserted that "momentum is the prize" coming out of Florida. "If Romney wins it may be difficult for McCain to raise cash going forward." If Giuliani pulls out, McCain would benefit, CBS' Greenfield speculated, since they compete "for the same national security minded relatively moderate voters." Of the 21 Republican Super Tuesday states, ABC's Berman predicted that McCain will head northeast (NY, NJ, Conn) where "moderate Republicans do well" while Romney heads west (Colo, Mont, Minn) to caucus-convention states "where organization and money make a difference."

     READER COMMENTS BELOW:|car insurence ytxrd|mobile home insurance hvzgg|life insurance quotes povofh|car insurance online 008|Propecia 8-(((|life insurance %-[[[|priligy xye|no credit card porn 220|auto owners insurance uics|life insurance quote 30314|car insurance in florida 876|car insurance rates dehh|state auto insurance 728|permanent life insurance :[[[|auto insurance >:DD|cheap auto insurance ntpil|life insurance premium 345|Propecia keulr|eastwood auto insurance =[|priligy 125|auto insurance 96599|life insurance :)))|priligy zvjo|auto insurance rqdkn|Cialis jkgh

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.