This time around, there will be no Rather, no Jennings and no Brokaw. Couric, Gibson and most likely Williams will preside.
NEW YORK (AP)—Katie Couric and Charles Gibson will make their prime-time debuts as chief anchors for CBS and ABC next month during hour-long specials reporting midterm election results. Brian Williams is likely to do the same at NBC, but that network hasn’t announced its Election Night plans.
Meanwhile, a study released by the Center for Media and Public Affairs on Wednesday found that the network evening-news programs are covering this year’s midterm election campaign three times as heavily as they did in 2002.
The last network election-night coverage, in 2004, was anchored by Tom Brokaw at NBC, Dan Rather at CBS and Peter Jennings at ABC. Brokaw retired from the evening news a month later, Rather left his CBS job under pressure and Jennings got sick and died from lung cancer.
Couric will host a one-hour elections special at 10 p.m. ET, updated at 10 p.m. on the West Coast, CBS said Wednesday. Bob Schieffer and a host of correspondents will join her, along with newly hired analysts Mike McCurry, former Clinton press secretary, and Nicolle Wallace, former White House communications director for President George W. Bush.
Couric will also deliver brief updates on the hour beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Gibson will be joined in ABC’s studio by ”This Week” host George Stephanopoulos. Analysts include George Will, Donna Brazile, Cokie Roberts and Mark Halperin. They will do another hour-long live show for 10 p.m. on the West Coast, which will be made available to other affiliates across the country if they want it.
Both networks also did one-hour specials in 2002. One difference this year: Gibson will do network updates every half hour, instead of hourly, ABC said.
Politicians are awaiting Nov. 7 eagerly given polls showing Democrats may be within striking range of taking control of Congress from Republicans.
Between Sept. 5 and Oct. 3, the three network newscasts ran 83 campaign stories, compared to the 20 they did during a similar time period four years ago, the Center for Media and Public Affairs said.
Since the scandal of Rep. Mark Foley’s e-mail messages to congressional pages broke, 23 of 27 stories have been about how that might affect the elections. Even taking that away, the 60 campaign stories triple what was done four years earlier, the center said.
”It may be that a long-term decline in the media’s interest in elections has reversed,” said Robert Lichter, the Washington-based center’s president, also noting the heavy coverage of the 2004 presidential election.
Still, the coverage tends to focus too heavily on scandal, gaffes and race handicapping, he said.