COMMENTS: Ike Competes with Palin

Part two of the Exclusive interview by ABC anchor Charles Gibson with Sarah Palin made the Republican Vice Presidential nominee Story of the Day again. Gibson's topic on day two was the economy and domestic issues as he anchored from Palin's lakeside home in mountain-ringed Wasilla, where she used to be mayor. As ABC did Thursday, the interview was edited into a long ten-minutes segment and then a shorter closing one. That second topic was the so-called Mommy Wars. Together the interview accounted for 66% (12 min out of 18) of ABC's entire newshole. Yet the q-&-a was not important enough to qualify as the lead item. All three newscasts--including NBC with substitute anchor Ann Curry--opened with the threat to the Houston metropolitan area from Hurricane Ike.

The sea wall protecting Galveston Island from the stormy Gulf of Mexico is 17 feet above sea level. In turn, ABC's Ryan Owens and David Price, weathercaster for CBS' Early Show and NBC's Amy Robach (featured in the videostream filed by her colleague Janet Shamlian), stood on top of the water-lapped wall to illustrate the warning that when Ike made landfall its storm surge would be yet another 20 feet higher. Price told us that majority of Galveston was already evacuated, with 14,000 of its 58,000 residents remaining to face the floods.

ABC's Owens warned that after Galveston, the surge could push a wall of water up the ship channel to Houston. NBC's Don Teague reported that "instead of evacuating the entire city as they did during Hurricane Rita, officials here have ordered evacuations only for those with special needs" and residents of nine low-lying ZIP codes. CBS' Hari Sreenivasan called downtown Houston "practically a ghost town" as residents hunkered down. He took a different angle from Teague's concerning the lack of an evacuation order: it would take at least 96 hours to accomplish "and Ike turned directly towards Houston only 48 hours ago."

NBC's Kerry Sanders pointed out that Port Arthur's Refinery Row is directly in the hurricane's path, so already 13 oil refineries have been closed, accounting for 17% of the nation's entire production of gasoline. Along with the Gulf waters, prices at the pump were rising across the entire southeast because of that supply shortage. Sanders pointed to hikes in Texas, Tennessee, Florida and the Carolinas. ABC's Barbara Pinto (embargoed link) cited Kentucky and Alabama too.


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