COMMENTS: News Fails to Take a Holiday

The Fourth of July may be a holiday but it was a surprisingly busy day of news. Granted CBS and NBC both had substitute anchors--Russ Mitchell and Lester Holt respectively--but there was plenty of substance for them to cover. All three networks reported on the wildfires in California and aired undercover commando videotape of Wednesday's hostage rescue in Colombia. Jesse Helms, the longtime Republican senator from North Carolina, received an obituary on all three newscasts. The holiday was still the Story of the Day, covered with assorted features. Yet fireworks and parades were not the lead item: ABC and CBS chose the fires near Santa Barbara; NBC had Helms' death at age 86.

ABC's Ryan Owens had a poignant take on Independence Day, contrasting hometown celebrations with worries about warzone deployments of troops. NBC's Mike Taibbi's contrast was between celebrating and belt-tightening in economic hard times. CBS' Ben Tracy spelled out the details of the economic squeeze, calculating the increased costs of both hot dogs and buns at a typical Forth of July barbecue. And Arthur Albertson of Millville Pa was ABC's Person of the week. Charles Gibson introduced us to the World War II veteran grand marshal of his small home town's parade.


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