COMMENTS: Rodham Clinton Wins her Must-Wins

A very heavy day of news was dominated by Campaign 2008. Election news accounted for fully 53% of the three-network newshole (33 min out of 62) as all three networks led with Hillary Rodham Clinton's victory in the Democratic primaries in Ohio and Texas. Then all three followed up with Barack Obama's reaction to his defeat and the formal endorsement of Republican victor John McCain by President George Bush at the White House. NBC took advantage of its single sponsor, the pharmaceutical brand Lyrica, to deliver even more coverage (24 min v ABC 19, CBS 19) than its rivals.

ABC's Kate Snow was most exuberant on Rodham Clinton's behalf, assigning precious "momentum" to her on the road to Pennsylvania, the next big primary state seven weeks away. NBC's Andrea Mitchell was more cautious, quoting the candidate's own more moderate claim simply to have halted Obama's momentum thus preventing a premature mass endorsement of Obama by convention superdelegates. Mitchell characterized the race as "virtually deadlocked." On CBS, Jim Axelrod was the most tepid of the three, noting that while Rodham Clinton had reclaimed her electoral base among the working class and female voters "it is virtually impossible for her to finish the primary season ahead in elected delegates."

Still, a win is a win. ABC's Snow noted that "once again women flocked to Hillary Clinton in her time of need." Snow attributed the victory to that "almost inescapable" red telephone spot, boasting of Rodham Clinton's ability to handle a national security emergency at 3am. NBC's Mitchell cited her focus on the issues of a slowing economy and the lack of universal healthcare and--using a clip from her own network's Saturday Night Live as an illustration--her campaign's plan "to keep showing her sense of humor with more cameos on comedy shows."


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