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Supreme Court

Alito Hearings: “Stay With It”

A sampling of yesterday’s viewer e-mails:

“I’m watching MSNBC for the Alito hearings today because CNN takes too many commercials. Right now CNN is skipping Sen. Kennedy’s questioning of Alito for commercials.”

“Why would CNN interview Charles Schumer about the Alito nomination and then go to a commercial break when Sen. Leahy is live and questioning Judge Alito?”

“CNN’s Daryn Kagan is showing a building about to be torn down, while Fox has the Alito hearings.”


Now we can add Brian Williams to the list of critics. On Wednesday afternoon he blogged:

“We also got a first-hand lesson (during our afternoon editorial meeting) in the art form of live coverage of a hearing: the moment the anchor on the cable network we happened to be watching felt the need to helpfully ‘explain’ what we were watching, we changed the channel to another that was just airing the hearing. Moments ago, while watching the hearing in my office, another cable network broke away (to cover ‘some of the other news of the day’) and so I broke away from them. I’ve always thought it should be a Cardinal rule: if you chose to invest in live coverage of an ongoing event, stay with it. If your audience has invested in watching it, it’s a good bet they don’t want to watch, or listen to, anything else. They know they have other channels at their disposal.”

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Alito Hearings: Monday’s Cable

FNC: Chris Wallace will anchor FNC’s coverage beginning at noon. He’ll be joined by Brit Hume and Megyn Kendall. Brian Wilson will report live from the hearings. FOXNews.com will offer live streaming gavel-to-gavel coverage of the hearings, and FOX News Radio will have live anchored and unanchored coverage, too.

CNN: Wolf Blitzer must be coming home: He’s anchoring special editions of The Situation Room beginning at noon on Monday. (He’ll start at 9:30am on subsequent days.) Blitzer will be joined by Jeff Greenfield, Jeffrey Toobin, and others. CNN Pipeline is promoting its live streaming coverage “s well as replays of the highlights.”

MSNBC: Chris Matthews will man the anchor desk for MSNBC’s Alito coverage. He’ll be joined by Jon Meachem for “analysis and perspective.” Norah O’Donnell will report from the hearings and Pete Williams will stop by, too.

Miers Withdraws: Notes

> E-mail coverage notes to tvnewser@mediabistro.com or use the tip box…

> ABC’s Good Morning America was the first network morning show to report the Miers news, at 8:56am. Update: 1:50pm: CBS had an across-the-board special report at 8:57am, a tipster says. NBC followed at 9am.

> Who was first on cable?

> Wolf Blitzer has been anchoring coverage in The Situation Room…

> FNC is awfully fond of these three-pieces: they’ve been placing live video in a large box, file video of Miers in the upper right, and live shots of the Supreme Court and White House in the lower right.

> Update: 1:50pm: An e-mailer asks: “So Fox News was bashing ‘The Situation Room’ when it premiered, and now that they see that it has potential to be a good program, they are copying the shows idea by placing lots of video on the screen all at once?”

SCOTUS: “Magic Number Reached”

> Send coverage notes to tvnewser@mediabistro.com or use the tip box…

> FNC’s chyron: “Magic number reached, confirmation all but certain.”

> CNN placed Roberts’ photo on the lower left corner of the screen.

> At least on my TV, ABC was the only network to air a special report. “The next one is likely to be a bigger fight, but maybe President Bush can pull another rabbit out of his hat,” George Stephanopoulos said. Bob Woodruff anchored.

> FNC’s Brit Hume: “This is a very critical part of a President’s legacy.”

> CBSNews.com posted a breaking news banner that said Roberts had been confirmed before the Senate voted. It pulled the banner down a few minutes later.

Americans Should Be Able “To Watch The Workings” Of The Supreme Court

Following up on John Roberts‘s comments last week about televising Supreme Court arguments:

“It is time for the Supreme Court to reverse its ban on cameras,” The Oregonian’s editorial board declares, and if Roberts is confirmed, he should lead the effort. “Americans should not just be allowed, but actively encouraged, to watch the workings of the most powerful court in the world.”

More: “It is absurd that Americans can sit for hours watching every last twist in a celebrity case such as Michael Jackson’s, or follow the arraignment of the runaway bride, but they could not see a single second of the historic arguments in the Bush v. Gore case that settled the disputed 2000 presidential election…”

Roberts Hearing: Nominee Comments On Media Rights & First Amendment

Quoting MSNBC.com: “The government should not bar the media from recording events to which the public has access, such as the government’s response and recovery effort from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, chief justice nominee John Roberts told the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

“There is great difficulty whenever you try to distinguish between public rights and media rights,” Roberts said. “If it’s a situation in which the public is being given access, you can’t discriminate against the media and say, as a general matter, that the media don’t have access, because their access rights, of course, correspond with those of the public.”

But Roberts added that he is not up to speed on First Amendment law or precedents, and he noted that there exist “some perfectly valid reasons for excluding media,” though he didn’t name them…

Roberts Hearings: Nominee Won’t Commit To Televised Supreme Court Hearings

Quoting C-SPAN’s press release: “Senator [Chuck] Grassely (R-IA) asked Judge John Roberts his views on including television cameras in the Supreme Court during his Senate confirmation hearings today.”

>
 GRASSLEY: Are you against cameras in the courtroom like Justice Rehnquist was?

ROBERTS: Well, you know, my new best friend, Senator Thompson, assures me that television cameras are nothing to be afraid of. But I don’t have a set view on that. I do think it’s something that I would have to be — I would want to listen to the views if I were confirmed to my colleagues.

“Americans can watch every event of national importance on television except for oral arguments at the Supreme Court,” Sen. Russ Feingold weighed in. “If you’re confirmed, you will be essentially disappearing from public view. This hearing will in some ways be the last time that the nation will see you at work…I think it would benefit the country and the court if all Americans had a chance to see the court conduct its work.”

But Roberts still wouldn’t answer the question definitively…

Roberts Hearings: A Fascinating Moment

humesept13.jpgUntil today, Americans had only listened to brief comments from Judge John Roberts, Brit Hume pointed out on FNC this afternoon. “We have no real sense of the man from what we’ve been able to see. Today we’ll have a much more extended version of his thinking. He’ll introduce himself to us, really, for the first time.”

Hume told Chris Wallace: “And unlike these senators, nearly all of whose statements have been distributed ahead of time, were written in advance and were reading, as you saw, with Senator Kennedy in particular and others as well, reading basically from prepared text, Judge Roberts is supposed to speak without a text. Now how extemporaneous will be really and how much he has memorized is something that, who knows. But we’ll get a sense of how agile he is. And it may be that he has chosen to do it this way so that he can pick up on points that have been raised in some of the — in some of the statements made by the senators.

But I think it’s going to be — that will be the moment to really watch. Because that will be fascinating.”



What are your impressions of the hearing coverage? E-mail tvnewser@mediabistro.com or drop it in the tip box…

Judge Roberts Hearings: “Tree Falling In The Forest & No One Hears?”

The confirmation hearings for Judge John Roberts will receive limited coverage as news nets focus on the aftermath of Katrina, Variety says.

“Democrats are sure to frame their questions provocatively, but with no coverage, it’s like the tree falling in the forest and no one hears,” Paul Waldman, senior fellow at the liberal Media Matters for America, complains.

“When the Senate hearings begin this morning, the cable news networks plan to dip in and out after carrying some opening statements,” Howard Kurtz adds.

> PBS, Court TV and C-SPAN3 will carry the hearings live…

> FOXNews.com is touting live coverage online

> Brian Williams will be anchoring some coverage on MSNBC…

Rehnquist: Networks Air Bush Comments

A tipster says: “All 3 networks broke in Sunday morning for the president’s remarks on the passing of Rehnquist. CBS was first anchored by Harry Smith in New York and Bob Schieffer in Washington. ABC and NBC were close behind with George Stephanopoulos and Lester Holt anchoring respectively.”

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