August 28, 2008

Local Anchors Worth Watching

By Dusty Saunders

Cable and public television again was the place to be Tuesday night for political junkies.

At 7:59 p.m., Virginia governor Mark Warner ended his keynote address and ABC, CBS and NBC joined convention coverage, thus assuring they'd be around for - as CBS' Katie Couric called it - "Hillary Clinton night."

I'm old enough to have lived during Television B.C. (before cable) when the networks thought keynote coverage was important.

Clinton's 22-minute address ended at 9:08 p.m.

The networks left shortly thereafter, giving their broadcasting rivals the opportunity to analyze and comment in depth on the important speech.

* Aaron Harber of KBDI- Channel 12 could be the dictionary definition of political animal.

Jim Benemann, CBS4 News anchor, also displays a strong knowledge about the political scene.

Thus, viewers looking for a national prime-time convention perspective on the local level should tune into Channel 12 (7-9:30 p.m.), which is teaming with the CBS- owned station.

Karen Leigh, Benemann's regular co-anchor and third member of this troika, is adequate but not in the same political league as her co-anchors.

Reporters Terry Jessup and Kathy Walsh provide first-rate reportage, spiced with opinion.

One nit to pick: After former Denver Mayor Federico Pena finished his podium address Tuesday night, Jessup referred to Pena as Wellington Webb and Leigh compounded the fracture.

* Luke Russert's Tuesday night appearance as an MSNBC young voters correspondent was much stronger than his Monday report about polls showing how voters feel about Barack Obama and John McCain.

The Monday appearance by Tim Russert's son could be summed up in one word - scared.

Was he initially intimidated answering questions from Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews?

* Often overlooked in TV political coverage is the work of C- SPAN. Like its cable brethren and PBS, C-SPAN, with its "wall-to- wall" coverage, aired Sen. Ted Kennedy's Monday address live.

If you tire of political opinions only by experts, C-SPAN 2 includes viewers' calls in its Prime Time Convention Hall.

* The three main cable networks covering opening night of the Democratic National Convention posted triple-digit audience gains in the advertising-friendly 25-54 age demographic, compared with opening night of the 2004 DNC.

MSNBC was up 88 percent, while CNN was up 85 percent. Fox News showed an 84 percent increase.

Considering Hillary Clinton's appearance Tuesday night, those cable ratings could soar even higher.

Originally published by Dusty Saunders, Special to the Rocky.

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