Minnesota native Gretchen Carlson loves coming home. The Stanford grad., a former Miss Minnesota and Miss America, grew up in Anoka, a suburb northwest of Minneapolis. Her parents and siblings still live in the area. This morning we caught up with Carlson at the Fox Experience, the newsroom and studios for Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and FOXNews.com, here in St. Paul.
So, as we searched for the parking garage where we left the rental car hours earlier in downtown St. Paul (a 15-minute search, by the way), we ran into MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow who was about to do an interview with IFC.
We’ll be doing a live chat with Maddow later this week. And she also let us know, that if you want to get a sense of what her new MSNBC show (premiering Monday at 9pmET) is going to look like, go to the Campaign Asylum channel on YouTube.
And in the cable news name game, we also learned the new title of Rick Sanchez’ afternoon show, via his Twitter. Rick Sanchez Direct premieres Monday at 3pmET.
And this begs the question: how many words in the English language are left that have not been used in the title of a cable news show?
Factor? Uh, Taken.
So we’re on our way to interview Gretchen Carlson at the Fox Experience, but we stopped off at the incredibly neon decked-out CNN Grill. CNN analyst Roland Martin is doing his radio show from here, and we’ve spotted CNN correspondents John King, Candy Crowley, Gloria Borger, Ed Henry, Joe Johns and Jessica Yellin.
And we hear Anderson Cooper will join the team in St. Paul as early as today. Insiders tell us he, like other network anchors, is leaving the Gulf Coast and headed here.
Arianna Huffington is here with a crew in tow. Several members of the St. Paul Fire Dept/EMS are here, in what is normally, and will be again when CNN leaves, the Eagle Street Diner.
The Grill can also accommodate live shots. In fact, minutes ago Louisiana delegate Michael Bayham wrapped up an interview with Heidi Collins (and if you looked closely TVNewser was blogging from behind the shot).
We’ll be back later today to get the scoop on what it takes to transform a downtown diner into a restaurant/live location/hangout.
John King and Candy Crowley at the CNN Grill.
TV news insiders we talked to today expect television coverage of day two of the RNC to be at the level day one would have been, if not for Hurricane Gustav. That will include more cable news broadcasts originating from here and there’s also the chance one or more of the network evening news anchors will begin reporting from here as early as tomorrow.
And while the coverage of the RNC may have been subdued on TV, the networks are still staffed up.
During the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer today on the CNN’s floor set. The network also has a skybox above the floor where guests and other analyst do live shots.
After the jump more pictures of the TV news presence in St. Paul. Also, some of the damage done by protesters here.
Phil Donahue may be long gone from his daytime shows, (or his MSNBC prime time show for that matter). But he was back in the form of Joe Scarborough today at a Huffington Post-sponsored panel about how new media are impacting the 2008 race. The panel was made up of members of old and new media as well as some stradeling both.
MNSBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinkski moderated the panel which touched on issues of blogs as a source of breaking political news, the vitriol that exists on some left and right wing blogs and the concern that the anonymity provided to blog commenters only fuels the hate.
The panel was filled with the likes of Arianna Huffington, Laura Ingraham, Tony Blankley, Frank Luntz and Peggy Noonan. But moderator Scarbourough took the mics into the crowd getting the thoughts of Joe Klein, Margaret Carlson and his MSNBC colleague Tucker Carlson.
Carlson, who was personally called out four years ago by Jon Stewart for hosting a show that was “hurting America,” today said intolerance on the Web is “what is hurting America.”
“And I’m saying this as the former host of Crossfire,” he told the audience of about 100 people at the Nicollet Island Inn in Minneapolis.
We panned the crowd before the panel discussion got underway. And after the jump, more pictures.
Included on the Observer’s blog is a picture of, “the giant television screen that greets you as you enter the perimeter.” The screen belongs to Fox News, and is located outside their large tent.
We hear there were huge gatherings outside the screen today as people in St. Paul checked out the scene in the Gulf Coast region.
• Related: As the RNC becomes the first convention to have its schedule affected by outside forces, FNC anchor Chris Wallace reflects on his first convention 44 years ago. He tells TV Guide’s Stephen Battaglio, that as a 16-year-old go-fer, he was focused on pursuing anchor Walter Cronkite‘s daughter.
“There was only one person that was in both convention anchor booths for CBS in 1964 — me,” he said. “And let me just say the romance with Nancy Cronkite survived the turmoil at CBS News.”
We’ve gotten word from network insiders here in St. Paul, what the plan is for cable coverage tonight:
• Fox News Channel will remain live until 2amET tomorrow morning (later if news warrants) with coverage from the Gulf coast and reports from the RNC as well. Greta Van Susteren interviewed Laura Bush and Cindy McCain to air later tonight. Shepard Smith anchors a special hour at 11pmET. Fox & Friends will begin at 5amET tomorrow.
• On CNN Campbell Brown anchors a two hour Hurricane/RNC special from 7-9pmET. Larry King Live will air live at both 9pm & Midnight. And AC360 from 10-12pmET. Anderson Cooper has an exclusive interview with Sen. Barack Obama.
And as mentioned earlier all three broadcast networks will produce 10pmET specials which will be focused heavily on Hurricane Gustav but include coverage from the truncated day #1 of the RNC. On ABC it will be a special edition of 20/20, NBC’s is a Dateline special, and CBS will produce a special report at 10pmET.
CNN accomplished something on Thursday that had never happened in its more than 28 year history. The 10pmET broadcast of Sen. Barack Obama‘s acceptance speech at the DNC was the top rated program on all of television, beating all broadcast networks as well as cable channels.
“We’re thrilled with the historic nature of our ratings victory last week,” CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein tells TVNewser. “We’re glad we were number one, we think we deserved to be and we’ll continue to try to earn those numbers moving forward.”
Having a cable channel earn the top spot on all of television is extremely rare but not unheard of — Fox News accomplished the feat three times during the RNC in 2004. It was, and still is, the only time it has happened for FNC.
And there have been strong ratings nights for CNN in its history. Larry King Live’s NAFTA debate in 1993 was the highest network telecast of all time, but still was eclipsed by prime time programming on the networks.
But in a head-to-head battle, Thursday’s victory was unprecedented for CNN (Wednesday CNN earned a disputed win over the broadcast networks).
“I like to think when I say ‘Best Political Team on Television,’ it’s really true,” Wolf Blitzer tells TVNewser. “It’s gratifying the American people responded.”
So what does Klein credit with the victory? And how does he think CNN separated from the cabler pack?
> FNC’s Shepard Smith gets some high praise from the Kansas City Star’s Aaron Barnhart. “Now that Shepard Smith is on Fox, there’s really no reason to watch anything else,” he writes. “Knowledge of his home state and his experience from the Katrina watch makes him the authority.”
> CNN’s Anderson Cooper is leading the on-the-ground coverage of Gustav, reporting from the French Quarter in New Orleans. As for the rest of Cooper’s week, CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein tells TVNewser, “We’ll make a call based on the severity of the storm and what the Republicans decide to do.”
> ABC has filled it’s 10pm hour reserved for RNC coverage — they’ll air a one-hour primetime special edition of 20/20 tonight, anchored by Charlie Gibson. An interview with Mayor Ray Nagin will be part of the special. George Stephanopoulos will have the political implications from St. Paul.
> Update: NBC is using 10pm slot for a Hurricane special as well, anchored by Brian Williams. Williams (from New Orleans) is joined by Ann Curry from Houma, LA and Tom Brokaw from St. Paul.
> Update, update: CBS is doing the same. Katie Couric anchors at 10pm from Baton Rouge, with contributors ranging from Harry Smith, Dave Price and Byron Pitts discussing Gustav and Bob Schieffer and Jeff Greenfield talking RNC. CBS will also have Couric interviews with Nagin and Michael Chertoff.
By late this afternoon, there should be more information as to how much damage will come from Hurricane Gustav. But for now, the cablers are monitoring the landfall with wall-to-wall coverage. Some notes:
• CNN correspondent Ali Velshi has been reporting from Grand Isle, Louisiana for what was supposed to be about the economic impact of the Hurricane on the oil rigs. But because the Hurricane shifted significantly overnight, he is now very close to the eye of the storm. He has reported by phone from a house he reports is “shaking.”
• Geraldo Rivera reported on a “person stranded,” in the water of the Industrial Canal. While reporting the news, he called over police. “You see right there, goddamnit!” said Rivera. It turned out to be a “rescue operation,” however, and the person was not stranded, and was pulled out of the water by a lifeline.
• MSNBC is the first to report, at 11:24amET, of a death related to the Hurricane. They are reporting a car accident on I-10. No network is reporting the news yet. Also of note — the MSNBC screen looks drastically different than usual, employing a sidebar similar to CNN and new lower thirds.