COMMENTS: Full State of the Union Treatment

Constitutionally speaking, Barack Obama's primetime address to a Joint Session of Congress did not qualify as a State of the Union, but the nightly newscasts gave it the full treatment anyway as Story of the Day. All three anchored from Washington; all three led with their White House correspondents' preview of the President's key talking points; all three aired a q-&-a with senior White House advisor David Axelrod.

Given that all three White House correspondents were given the same briefing, it is no surprise that they should file similar previews. "Hopeful notes" about a "serious situation," was how NBC's Savannah Guthrie characterized Obama's tone on the economy…"walk the line between alarm and optimism," was how ABC's Jake Tapper put it…"rally the people" amid a "crisis of confidence," according to CBS' Chip Reid.

All three isolated healthcare, education and energy as his priority policy areas--"themes that will sound familiar," as NBC's Guthrie put it. And all three warned that the speech will rely on generalizations. "The President will not discuss specific hard choices"--ABC's Tapper…"The President will not offer a lot of new details"--CBS' Reid…"The President will not lay out specific policy proposals"--NBC's Guthrie.


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