October 13, 2008

The Real Fun Starts After Candidates Have Taken Their Seats

By Eric Stark

For me, it's all about the debate after the debate.

The best TV viewing occurs after the candidates for president and vice president finish their discussions. That's when we find out who blinked too much, who twisted the facts and who was most convincing. It's amazing how quickly they edit the video clips, check the facts and set up interviews.

After the vice-presidential debate and the most recent clash between John McCain and Barack Obama, I tuned in to CBS. No, not for Katie Couric - she's just OK - but for her CBS News counterpart, Jeff Greenfield, a senior political correspondent who worked nine years for CNN as a senior political analyst. He made his reputation during 14 years at ABC. Greenfield has a simple way of breaking things down and gives great examples of what he's talking about.

Bob Schieffer, a true pro in broadcast journalism, also gives commentary. He will be the moderator Wednesday for the third and final presidential debate.

Here are some observations on the recent post-debate coverage:

After Tuesday's presidential debate, Couric polled a panel of undecided voters. I, too, am undecided, so it was nice to hear other unbiased opinions.

ABC News anchor Charles Gibson spent most of his time Tuesday questioning college students.

After Sarah Palin and Joe Biden squared off, NBC News anchor Brian Williams interviewed Geraldine Ferraro, who became the first woman on a national election ticket in 1984 as Democrat Walter Mondale's running mate. NBC does a great job of fact checking in a hurry, letting viewers know who stretched the truth.

CN8 aired "It's Your Call With Lynn Doyle" after the Tuesday debate, taking calls from viewers from the Northeast region.

Fox News, which appears to favor a conservative point of view with its coverage, ran a phone-in survey Tuesday night. Among Fox viewers, 86 percent thought McCain won the debate, while just 12 percent thought Obama won. I wonder if they watched the same debate I watched.

The best coverage Tuesday was on CNN, which hosted an hourlong discussion during "Anderson Cooper 360." Even though the panel consisted of former Republican and Democratic strategists (and political analysts), everyone was very professional and provided great insight. CNN reporters and anchors Campbell Brown and Wolf Blitzer were there, as well as James Carville, a former adviser to Bill Clinton. Panelist David Gergen, who advised four presidents, said it was too early to declare victory because Barack Obama is black.

A little later in the discussion, Carville proclaimed that, based on his lead in the polls, Obama will be the slam-dunk winner of the election in November. He said there could be riots if Obama loses.

This exchange was more riveting than anything the two candidates said in their 90 minutes in the spotlight.

Staff writer Eric Stark discusses trends and tidbits in broadcast media each week in the Sunday News. He can be reached at [email protected]

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