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Gustav Trumps Convention Coverage

September 1, 2008

By MATEA GOLD

By Matea Gold and James Rainey

Los Angeles Times

ST. PAUL, Minn.

The television networks and national cable news outlets Sunday shifted their top talent and reporters from the Republican National Convention here to the Gulf region to prepare for Hurricane Gustav’s landfall.

That means John McCain and his campaign will not receive the uninterrupted attention that Barack Obama did during last week’s Democratic National Convention.

News executives – much like the presumed Republican presidential nominee himself – said they had no choice but to follow the potentially damaging events in the south, three years after Hurricane Katrina caught some news organizations flat-footed.

“I don’t even look at it as a matter of fairness,” said Jay Wallace, vice president of news editorial product at Fox News. “The prevailing story right now is this storm.”

The political race inevitably will be pushed to “Page 2,” he said.

The three network anchors headed to the hurricane zone. NBC’s Brian Williams and ABC’s Charles Gibson flew to New Orleans from New York on Sunday morning, and CBS’s Katie Couric jetted from her convention post in St. Paul.

Similarly, Fox News’ Shepard Smith traveled to the storm region and CNN’s Anderson Cooper was already in place, arriving last week to cover the third anniversary of Katrina.

Indeed, all the television outlets said they were determined to cover both stories. That means the hourlong news specials the networks planned each night from the convention will, at least today, be split between the convention and the storm.

“We’ve got to cover the news,” NBC News President Steve Capus said Sunday. “We’ve deployed in a smart and aggressive way in both places.”

On his way to New Orleans, Williams interviewed McCain after the Republican presidential contender visited Mississippi to review the state’s preparations.

Capus said the interview, which aired on “NBC Nightly News,” was an effort to give the candidate and the Republican National Committee their fair share of air time amid the brewing storm .

major anchors

The three network anchors headed to the hurricane zone. NBC’s Brian Williams and ABC’s Charles Gibson flew to New Orleans from New York on Sunday morning, and CBS’s Katie Couric jetted from her convention post in St. Paul.

Originally published by BY MATEA GOLD.

(c) 2008 Virginian – Pilot. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.