"Today" led with the TX polygamy custody hearing. "Early Show" led with Pope Benedict XVI's meeting with clergy sex abuse victims. "GMA" led with earthquake in IL.
• Meet the Press hosts Obama strategist David Axelrod and Clinton strategist Geoff Garin, and a roundtable with New York Times' David Brooks, Washington Post's E. J. Dionne and NPR's Michele Norris . • Face the Nation hosts Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and PA Gov. Ed Rendell (D), and a roundtable with Dem strategist Joe Trippi and Politico's Roger Simon. • This Week hosts John McCain and a roundtable with ABC's Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts and George Will. • Fox News Sunday hosts Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Karl Rove. • Late Edition hosts ex-Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ), NJ Gov. Jon Corzine (D), Philly Mayor Michael Nutter (D), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Catholic Univ. pres./Rev. David O'Connell, Vatican analyst Delia Gallagher, McCain economic adviser Carly Fiorina, and a rountable with CNN's Gloria Borger, Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria and Time's Mark Halperin.
Other Weekend Shows
• Washington Week features Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's David Shribman on the Dem debate and PA; CNBC's John Harwood on McCain; Time's Michael Duffy on Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the U.S.; and USA Today's Joan Biskupic on SCOTUS' decision on a lethal injection procedure (PBS, FRI, 8pm). • Political Capital features John McCain (Bloomberg, FRI, 7:30pm). • Real Time features scholar Cornel West, pol/writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, blogger Markos Moulitsas and Real Time corr. Jeremy Scahill (HBO, FRI, 11 pm). • This Week in Politics features CNN's Candy Crowley, Salon.com's Mike Madden, Dem strategist Stephanie Cutter, GOP strategist Rich Galen, Washingtonpost.com's Chris Cillizza, CNN's Ali Velshi, Politico's Eamon Javers, CNN's Ed Henry, CNN pol. ed. Mark Preston (CNN, SAT 6pm, SUN 1 pm). • Newsmakers hosts National Economic Council dir. Keith Hennessey. He will be questioned by Wall Street Journal's John McKinnon and Washington Times' Patrice Hill (C-SPAN, SUN, 10am/6pm). • Road to the White House features weekend PA campaign events (C-SPAN, SUN, 6:30pm/9:30pm). • Chris Matthews Show features NBC's David Gregory, BBC's Katty Kay, Newsweek's Howard Fineman and WCAU's Renee Chenault-Fattah (NBC, check local listings). • Reliable Sources features AmericaBlog.com's John Aravosis, National Review's Jim Geraghty, ABC's Jake Tapper and beliefnet.com's Steven Waldman (CNN, SUN, 10 am).
"I don't want James Carville to bite me."--John Edwards, on why he hasn't endorsed, "Colbert Report," Comedy Central, 4/17.
Hungry Like The Wolf
CNN's Brianna Keilar most recently covered the VA Tech anniversary and has been substitute anchoring for CNN Newsroom. Prior to CNN, Keilar was at CBS News where she served as an anchor, reporter and prod. for a CBS newscast that aired on mtvU, MTV's college network. She was also a general assignment reporter in Yakima, WA. During that same time, Keilar worked in radio as a morning show personality and weekend news reader. But today she's our Friday Feature:
Where's your hometown? What was it like growing up there?
Mission Viejo, CA. It's in Orange County and recently won the distinction of The Safest City in the US. It could have been a very sheltered upbringing but my parents were very good at giving us a view into the world outside "the bubble." I spent a lot of time outdoors playing in the dirt. In elementary school I took up golf and spent countless hours over the years playing all over Southern California. Unfortunately, the weather is so beautiful that it puts me at a disadvantage to live comfortably in any place that has less sun or temperate climes ... which is basically everywhere.
What was your first job?
I worked retail in high school, folding jeans at Miller's Outpost, a store in the local mall.
What's your most embarrassing on-the-job moment? (Or as embarrassing as you'd like to reveal?)
All of my embarrassing moments happened in Yakima, Washington while covering the Central Washington State Fair. It was my first reporting job and I just didn't know any better. Once I fell off of a mechanical bull very ungracefully on live television. Then for a live shot about the reptile exhibit a handler and I hatched a seemingly brilliant plan to wrap an Albino Burmese Python around me (who did I think I was, Britney Spears?). The snake stuck its tail up my shirt and out through the buttons as soon as the anchor tossed to me.
If you could interview any deceased person, who would it be and why?
Pablo Picasso. When I was in college I was sure I would never "get" art. Then I went to see the exhibit, "Picasso and the War Years". I find him fascinating, in part because he was criticized for remaining neutral during the wars of his time but his artwork is anything but neutral. His art has such force. I would ask him about Guernica, his depiction of the German bombing of Guernica, Spain that was almost solely responsible for opening the world's eyes to the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.
If you could have any other job besides the one you have now, what would it be?
I'd be a NASCAR pit reporter. I'm a huge (HUGE!) NASCAR fan. I'm borderline obsessed with it.
If you could cover any past political story, which one would it be and why?
Freedom Summer -- 1964. It was such a pivotal moment in the social history of the US and I'm inspired by people who risk their lives to bring about change. It makes me reflect on how far race relations have come in the US but also how far the country still has to go.
It's 2028 -- where are you and what are you doing?
Probably arguing with a teenager -- my teenager. Scary.
What's your favorite political book and why?
Boys on the Bus. I read it in 2004 when I was covering my first presidential election. It's a great look into a bygone era of political reporting.
What is your biggest weakness (and not your job interview biggest weakness)?
I often lack tact. And my propensity for being abrupt was only exacerbated by living in New York City for three years. I may never recover but at least I've learned how to apologize for myself.
What's your favorite comfort food?
What reality TV show could you win?
The Amazing Race. I really like to travel. I have a healthy appetite and rarely throw up so I think I could rock any challenge where I'd have to eat a pound of intestines/brains/camel kababs. Plus, I get along with animals so I bet I could walk/ride/milk anything that's put in front of me.
If you could go to any live concert tonight, which one would it be?
The Smashing Pumpkins. I have been a fan since high school and have never seen them play. The Pumpkins are in a league of their own and they've inspired so many other artists.
And finally, we're ending this feature with a question posed by the last interviewee. This is from mediabistro.com's Chris Ariens: Russert, Stephanopoulos, Schieffer or Wallace? Who would you most like to have dinner with, and why?
None of them ... I'd have dinner with Wolf Blitzer, of course! He's a foodie and one of the coolest people at CNN.
Now you can pose your own question -- any question -- to the next interviewee. Be as nice, or as mean, as you wish.
What's the last thing you got in trouble for?
I Can't Get No Satisfaction
Charles Gibson and George Stephanapoulos, moderators of 4/16's Dem debate on ABC, "became the subject of a fierce and somewhat unexpected debate" 4/17 as "viewers, bloggers" and TV critics "lamented what they described as an opportunity lost: a chance to ask" Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama "substantive questions early and often." The "media-post mortum ... also touched on questions that had long been simmering in the protracted" Dem campaign over the role of moderators in TV debates, to "say nothing of political journalists generally."
Stephanopoulos said that "after digesting much of what had been sent forth in the blogosphere" 4/17, he'd have "approached one critical aspect of his job differently." Stephanopoulos: "I could imagine moving up some of the questions. You can differ over that" (Steinberg, New York Times, 4/18).
More Stephanopoulos: "I think the questions were certainly pointed -- tough at times, as they should be in a presidential debate -- but not inappropriate or irrelevant at all. The questions have been part of this campaign and in the news. We did our job. You're not going to satisfy everyone" (Kurtz, Washington Post, 4/18).
However, "for nearly an hour," the 10.7M viewers of the debate didn't "hear a single question about the economy, Iraq or healthcare." Instead, Gibson and Stephanopoulos "revisited controversies." Dem strategist Bob Shrum, with regards to the moderators asking Obama about the flag pin issue, said Obama should have "shot back": "Where's your flag pin?" Neither host wore one (Abcarian, Los Angeles Times, 4/18).
45 Minutes Too Long
Franklin & Marshall College prof. G. Terry Madonna "echoed Obama's concern" that it "took too long to get to important issues." Madonna: "I was disappointed in the first 40 minutes of it. They should have started asking questions pertaining to policy issues and leadership and not focused so much on personal questions. ... There was nothing new" (Schaffer, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/18).
FNC's Kondrake: "I think that 45 minutes of questions about character probably was a little too much, because there was a lot of meat that they got out of the questions about Iraq and Iran and the capital gains tax. ... But those were perfectly legitimate questions that they were asking Obama. He is the frontrunner for the nomination to be president of the United States, and he is not a known quantity. ... Those are perfectly legitimate questions. And all of those reveal things about his character" ("Special Report," FNC, 4/17).
Dem strategist Peter Fenn: "45 minutes is quite a while to go without a substantive question. It beat the NBC News one, which I believe was about 33 minutes, without any substance" ("Situation Room," CNN, 4/17).
Huffington Post's Sekoff: "It was pathetic. I mean, I had a hard time knowing if we are looking at Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos or, you know, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. And, in fact, Stephanopoulos had got the talking points about Ayers and the Weather Underground from Sean Hannity on his radio show the day before" ("Verdict," MSNBC, 4/17).
However, there were "plenty" of other commentators who said 4/17 that Gibson and Stephanopoulos had "acquitted themselves nicely in their roles as moderators" (New York Times, 4/18). CNBC's Harwood: "There was a lot of criticism of Stephanopoulos and Charlie for raising supposedly irrelevant issues. I think that is complete baloney. They were legitimate issues. Barack Obama is going to have to deal with this stuff if he is the Democratic nominee" ("Race for the WH," MSNBC, 4/17).
Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham noted that Gibson and Stephanopoulos "asked the candidates about Iraq, Israel, gas prices, capital gains taxes, affirmative action" and also a question on the DC handgun ban. Ingraham: "That's pretty substantive. It was one of the best debates of the entire political season, because it addressed substance and character all at the same time. ... Members of the media who believe Barack Obama is going to sail into the general election without having to tackle these questions several times are deluding themselves" (Washington Post, 4/18).
FNC's O'Reilly: "The questions were legit. Obama's got to answer this stuff and that's that" ("O'Reilly Factor," FNC, 4/17).
Ex-NY Gov. Mario Cuomo (D): "I'm certainly not going to criticize them for the subjects they selected, when everyone has been selecting those subjects for weeks and weeks."
Kennedy-Nixon '60 debate dir. Don Hewitt said ABC's "structuring of the questions was an acknowledgment that a debate entails 'a big dose of showbiz' and 'trying to keep an audience.' Hewitt: "When you're in television, that's your job" (New York Times, 4/18).
NBC's Mitchell: "It's very easy to be Monday morning quarterback. I'm not going to take shots at my colleagues over there at ABC. It is not an easy job" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 4/18).
That Had To Hurt
There are "few things more uncomfortable for a journalist than covering your own news operation," and ABC "decided" 4/17 it had to "Face the challenge," and aired a "two-minute section" on "Nightly News." Gibson, "with a straight face": "The debate over the debate has been heated. It continues on our website, and we appreciate all the comments sent in -- of all points of view" (Farnam, Wall Street Journal, 4/17).
CNN's Cafferty: "George Stephanopoulos, the former press secretary for President Clinton -- what kind of objectivity is ABC News showing having him moderate the debate?" ("Situation Room," 4/17).
CYA: Cover Your A$$
ABC News released a statement 4/17 calling the debate the "most-watched" of the '08 WH cycle. According to the release, 10.7M viewers tuned in, and the program outperformed "previous debate viewing high by double digits among total views, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54." Additionally, the debate beat "American Idol" program-to-program in Philadelphia, Orlando, San Antonio and Albuquerque" (release, 4/17).
Engels In The Outfield
Richard Engel has been named chief foreign corr. for NBC News, effective immediately. Engel will "expand his role and continue to report for all platforms of NBC News," including "Nightly News," "Today," and MSNBC.com.
Previously, Engel served as NBC News' sr. Middle East corr. and Beirut Bureau chief since May '06 (release, 4/18).
In The Heat Of The Nightline
According to Nielsen, for the week of 4/7, ABC's "Nightline" outperformed CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" among total viewers and adults 25-54 -- the ninth victory for "Nightline" over "Late Show" among the demographic this season. "Nightline" also beat "Late Show" "all five nights," and had its "best total viewer" and adults 25-54 delivery since Feb. (Hotline sources, 4/18).
Slip Slidin' Away
Katie Couric's "well-documented doubts" about staying at CBS' "Evening News" are "apparently tied to more bad ratings news." The "ratings slide that began when she started 19 months ago is getting worse," and Couric "is down 10 percent year-to-date."
All three net newscasts are down -- ABC's "World News" and NBC's "Nightly News" are both off by 1% this year. But, as the advertising trade magazine Media Life reported 4/17, the ABC and NBC "declines represent the natural attrition of nightly news audiences. Couric's indicate a flight of viewers" (Starr, New York Post, 4/18).
Jay Leno: "How many watched the debate last night? [on screen: Light cheers and a few boos]. How many watched 'American Idol?' [on screen: Loud cheers and applause]. You get the government you deserve. I have to tell you, 'American Idol' beat the debate last night. You know why it won? Simon Cowell, that's why it won. Because on that show, you know at least one person is telling the truth. You know, I watched the debate between Hillary and Barack. It was interesting. She was kinda lashing out at him, but to be fair, I think it was just the liquor talking. As you know, Hillary Clinton is trying to appeal to the blue collar voters. She's drinking, talking about hunting and fishing, and it's working. She is now, in the latest poll, up eight points in the mullet vote. And last night at the debate, each of the candidates brought a couple of personal items with them to keep at the podium. And it's pretty revealing what they had. Like, when Barack talked about being elitist, you know? ... Look at the things he had. Look, he's got finger sandwiches, he's got some Grey Poupon, he's got some champagne. You see what I'm saying? And, of course, Hillary, she's really running with this redneck thing. Look what she had. Look at her podium. Look what she's got. She's got a gun. She's got pork rinds. You know, it's amazing how drinking is now part of this campaign. On 'Hardball' the other day, a student asked John McCain to do shots with him after the debate, and all of the candidates have their favorite drinks now. For example, John McCain, he prefers Old Granddad. He likes that. Barack Obama, he likes the elitist Manhattan with extra bitters. And, of course, Hillary likes a a shot of Old Crow, straight up. Each one has their own. And if you watch any of the debate last night, you know they kept pressing Hillary on whether she thought Barack Obama could beat John McCain, and she kept avoiding it. Finally she answered 'Yes, yes.' To which Bill Clinton said, 'Whoa, never heard her say that.' And President Bush announced his plan this week to limit greenhouse gases. He said he will ban all greenhouses. See, I don't think he understands exactly what's going on. And yesterday, of course, was Pope Benedict's birthday. Happy birthday to him. They had a little party for him at the White House. You may have seen that. As you know, the pope does not drink, he does not do drugs, and he's taken a vow of celibacy. So it's pretty safe to say no congressmen showed up for that party. In fact, you know, I think President Bush got a a little bit confused yesterday, when he heard it was the pope's birthday. You know, like, he said, 'His birthday? Where are we gonna get a Christmas tree this time of the year?' I don't think he understands the Catholic religion. It's a little different. And at the party yesterday, Pope Benedict spoke out against evil, and then Dick Cheney gave the rebuttal. It was pretty amazing today. 46,000 people showed up to see the pope in the Washington Nationals ballpark, and he beat the Nationals 15-1. Terrible team, by the way. ... 46,000 people, and to make sure the crowd did not get unruly, they cut off beer sales after the seventh commandment. ... Well, that's the big news, the pope is saying mass at Yankee Stadium. And there's some hurt feelings. You know who's hurt? The Angels. 'What about us? We're the Angels!' ... Speaking of New York, tax records show that the New York Governor, David Paterson, made $270,000 last year, but only gave $150 to charity. Now, his predecessor, Governor Spitzer, he gave thousands of dollars to charity. At least I think that was her name. Was her name Charity? ... President Bush met with the British Prime Minister today, Gordon Brown. [Leno, impersonating President Bush]: 'Doing a good job, Brownie'" ("Tonight Show," NBC, 4/17).
David Letterman: "Down in Washington, it was so sunny, the pope was wearing his stained-glass sunglasses. ... Are you excited about the Pope coming to New York City? Of course you are! Everybody in New York City has pope fever. Today, Donald Trump was wearing his hair all tall and pointy. And then on my lunch hour, I go through Central Park, and honest to God, I see a squirrel blessing his nuts. It really happened. ... But it's an historic day. Earlier today down at Nationals Stadium, [in] Washington, DC, the pope had mass. And it went pretty long. The mass ran kind of long. As a matter of fact, the fourth hour was hosted by Kathy Lee. These international trips are tricky. And often there can be some confusion and perhaps some embarrassment. They had an episode today in Washington, everybody is laughing about it now. But at the time, it was not funny. The pope, after the mass, accidentally gave the last rites to John McCain. ... And then, you know what they did? The pope, God bless him, [has] the popemobile. [He] said the mass and he takes off in the popemobile, and then President Bush followed him in the dopemobile. ... This was a nice thing. President Bush and the pope met privately at the White House. And they prayed together at the White House. And ... I'm checking on this, it was the first time anyone had been on their knees in the Oval Office since, uh ... Oh, I can't remember" ("Late Show," CBS, 4/17).
Jon Stewart: "We had a lot of response to our coverage of the pope's visit yesterday. A lot of it very positive. He is coming to New York. He is going to be visiting a synagogue. No word yet on whether or not the Jews will surrender. But more importantly, it was a huge night yesterday. Let's turn to Indecision '08 coverage. Last night was Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's first matchup in seven weeks. Their last before the pivotal Pennsylvania primary. Sorry, cable news, this was a job for the pros. ABC's sending the big guns. Professor Stephanopoulos, Dr. Gibson setting aside two hours of prime time network television, preempting 'Super Nanny!' How am I supposed to raise my kids now? They're just sitting there, screaming and hitting me and I've got no plan! Oh, Super Nanny! Won't you drive to my house for 15 minutes and fix it all? But with our country facing unprecedented challenges, this debate [was] too important. ... The first hour of last night's debate was a 60-minute master class in questions that elevate out-of-context remarks and trivial insipid miscues into subjects of national discourse. Which is my job! Stop doing my job! That's what I'm here for! I'm the silly man!" ("Daily Show," Comedy Central, 4/17).
John Edwards delivered his own version of "The Word," entitled "Ed-words." Edwards: "I beg to differ, Stephen. ... And that brings us to tonight's Ed-words: Valued voter. You know, Stephen, you're right about white males playing an important role in this election. Their votes are being courted as a demographic tie-breaker between these two tough candidates, and no white male's vote is being courted more vigorously than this one. [on screen: Edwards points to himself]. It is no secret that both campaigns have sought my support. So far, I haven't decided which of these excellent candidates I'm going to endorse. On the one hand, I don't want to be seen as anti-hope. On the other hand, I don't want James Carville to bite me. So who am I going to vote for in the "next" last primary, North Carolina? Well, I will support whoever presents a platform that is consistent with my values. I will support the candidate who will raise the federal minimum wage; somebody who will fight for the 37 million Americans who wake up every day in poverty every day; someone who will protect the interests of working families. Also, I'd like a jet ski. ... Elizabeth and I love to go to the lake house in the summer, and it would sure be fun to go jet skiing together. So I guess we'll actually need two jet skis. Which reminds me. There are two Americas. One America that does the work, and another that reaps the reward. ... I understand what working folks go through. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but my father was a mill worker. So you know what? Let's get him a jet ski. Now before anybody starts going out there saying, 'All John Edwards cares about are jet skis,' that is not true. I'm deeply concerned about the lack of affordable health care in this country. The fact that we need to insure every single man, woman and child in America goes without saying. But a what does need to be said ,is that I will only support the candidate who promises to make me a spy. That would be so cool. I'd get to have all those high-tech gadgets. I want to go on at least one mission a month, and it should be some place awesome, like Prague or a moon base. I'd also settle for Tahiti or the Riviera, anywhere there's a chance of a jet ski chase. But America should never settle for allowing so many to live in economic hardship. If we put our minds to it, we can end poverty within 30 years. I want my grandkids to be born in a world where true economic equality is no longer a goal for the future, but a reality of the present. ... So, Barack, Hillary, if you want this white male vote, you're gonna have to show that you care just about as much as the things that really matter to me as I do. [on screen: photo of two jet skis]. And that is the 'Ed-word'" ("Colbert Report," Comedy Central, 4/17).
Jimmy Kimmel: "Thank you for watching our continuing coverage of the pope's visit to the United States. ... I learned all sorts of new words when the pope visits. Papal, papacy. Paypal. That's the eBay thing. Pontiff. Pontoon is one, that's the pope's boat. But today, the pontiff said mass at the baseball stadium in Washington, DC. 46,000 People were there. ... There were a lot of people [so] they had to give out communion with a t-shirt canon, which was weird. It was a beautiful service though. President Bush gave the opening invocation. We have the tape. [on screen: Bush appears on a screen behind the pope and says, 'Are you ready for some football?']. ... It was under heavy security. They declared a no-fly zone over the stadium. In case god shows up, they didn't want him to get hit by a plane. Back to president bush for a second. He had a big day. Not only does he have the pope sleeping on his couch, but he's hosting gordon brown right now. I am going to miss the president when he's gone and the smart people take over for him. Last night, Senators Clinton and Obama debated. Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos have been getting grief for rehashing the old issues. They're all old issues. You know, what are you going to debate? Dentistry? Meanwhile, over on the Republican side, I guess John McCain has been feeling a little left out because tonight, he organized a debate against himself" ("Jimmy Kimmel Live," ABC, 4/17).
This article appears in the April 18, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.