John Edwards’s appearance in Michigan to endorse Obama just happened to be set for 6:30 P.M., at the top of the networks’ nightly news feeds. ABC’s World News went to a live picture off the top, but Edwards apparently missed his slot, so ABC went to its China coverage and promised to return to Michigan live.
Unlike cable news, the network newscasts do not usually carry live events in their carefully-timed programs. But after China, ABC went back to Michigan while anchorman Charles Gibson explained that the Clinton campaign had hoped “that the headlines would be all about her victory in West Virginia, and yet with this…they seem a bit trumped.” Gibson explained that Edwards’ appearance was “timed for maximum exposure…timed for the evening newscasts.” And with that, guess who walked onto the stage, with ABC carrying it live? “George Stephanopoulos, this is the kind of publicity that you can’t buy,” Gibson said. “This was designed to completely squash the West Virginia story,” Stephanopoulos added. And with that, ABC took Obama’s introduction of Edwards live, and…completely squashed the West Virginia story. Didn’t even report it in any real sense. A big victory for Obama — the kind of publicity that you can’t buy — courtesy of ABC News.