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Supreme Court

Rehnquist: CNN Beats FNC By Eight Min.

CNN’s newsroom was buzzing at 11pm as staffers sought confirmation of the news of Rehnquist’s death. Carol Lin broke the news to the world at 11:06:23pm ET.

Meanwhile, CNNers in Atlanta watched Fox News air tape: Of Greta, of Hannity, of Geraldo. (It’s not unfair to say there was some glee.) MSNBC broke in with Cheryl Casone at 11:12:20pm. FNC followed at 11:14:10…

Rehnquist: Who’s The Real News Network?

linsept4.jpgSome of the late-night comments from tipsters:

> “CNN is still live at 11pm with Carol Lin in Atlanta and reporters live in the gulf coast area. MSNBC and FNC are done for the night.”

> “CNN broke in with the story of the death of William Rehnquiest at 11:06:22 pm ET.”

> “CNN is live, good thing since Chief Rehnquist just passed away. MS and Fox are on tape. Who is the real news network?”

> “FNC is finally on at 11:14 pm with Carol in the newsroom and Greta live.”

> “CNN blew MSNBC and FOX out of the water with the Rehnquist news by several minutes.”

> “The news of Rehnquist’s death came just minutes into CNN Saturday Night — they ran an obituary by Bruce Morton.”

> “It’s the BIG stories that sets CNN apart from the competition. I am watching CNN and the others on the death of Rehnquist and see CNN providing much more thoughtful insight to the story than anyone else. It’s almost like FNC and MSNBC struggle to keep the story on the air. CNN has numerous close friends from the past doing phone interviews.”

> “CNN has coverage with Carol Lin. MSNBC (NBC) has coverage with Cheryl Casone. MSNBC has Chris Matthews via phone. FNC has coverage with Carol Iovanna and Greta Van Susteren / Susan Estrich on the phone.”

> “While CNN was the first to break the passing of Chief Justice Rehnquist on air, MSNBC had it online first. CNN and Fox (and ABC and CBS) took ages to get this story to their pages. It seems when it comes to the web, MSNBC is the leader.”

Roberts: Popular Among D.C. Journos

ABC’s must-read Note believes Roberts was “THE best handled and well-researched” nominee process ever, and says the Dem’s strategy of “relative reticence to say anything declarative…sent out the impression that they did not know what to think and were confused about what to say.” But this is the most interesting graf:

“The factor we think most likely to ensure Judge Roberts’ confirmation: that the Washington establishment, and the media establishment, know him and like him. Do not underestimate how hard it will be for Democrats to tar a potential nominee who has given working Washington journalists his cell phone number and who is generally seen as a mensch.

The Nominee: “Well-Planned” By The WH

> “For eight dizzying hours yesterday, media outlets plunged themselves into Supreme speculation, with anchors and reporters blathering on about the president’s likely high court pick, until the collective chatter moved on to other potential nominees,” Howard Kurtz writes. He says a “shoot-from-the-lip environment ruled cable news.”

> USAT’s Peter Johnson: The timing “certainly illustrates that one of the great powers of the presidency is the power to change the subject,” Court TV News anchor Fred Graham said. “Bush was back on his heels over Karl Rove, and this announcement wipes Rove off the front pages, for a time.”

> “As a prime-time television event, it was well-planned by the White House: short, sweet and without a large piece of air time given over to any real analysis,” Tim Cuprisin writes.


Associated Press photo: Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Patrick Leahy speak as President Bush announces John Roberts.

The Nominee: Primetime Notes

robertsjuly19.jpg > The “big three” returned to programming almost immediately. Brian Williams continued anchoring on MSNBC until 9:30pm.

> Dan Abrams on MSNBC: “This was the right choice, so to speak, in the sense that he’s just conservative enough to satisfy the base, and yet there’s not enough on paper for the liberal groups to really get him.”

> Bill Kristol on FNC: “I predicted that he would pick a woman, and I want to apologize to the President — seriously — I think this was courageous and impressive. [He had a diverse list but] I think he stepped back and thought last night, ‘who really will be the best justice?’”

> I was hoping CBS anchor John Roberts would reference the fact that he shares the nominee’s name, but I was disappointed. Update: 10:04pm: “On the west coast edition of the CBS Evening News, 30 minutes before the speech, John Roberts announced the name and said, ‘no relation to this correspondent.’”

> CNN placed a “Supreme Court Announcement Clock” on the right side of the screen during Paula Zahn Now.

> “This has been a cross between the old excitement of the political conventions, and the finale of ‘The Apprentice,’” Keith Olbermann said at the end of Countdown…

> When President Bush spoke, CNN pulled the ticker. FNC kept it on the bottom of the screen. MSNBC simulcasted the NBC News special report.

> Court TV preempted Forensic Files for an hour-long special report…

The Nominee: Roadblock Tonight

The White House asked the broadcast networks to cover President Bush’s Supreme Court nomination at 9 p.m., and they didn’t hesitate (at least not for long). Brian Williams will anchor a special report on NBC; Charlie Gibson will anchor on ABC; and John Roberts will anchor on CBS; Shep Smith will anchor on the Fox broadcast network. ABC’s coverage will last about 15 minutes; we’ll see if any of the networks goes for a full half-hour. Cable coverage:

> Brit Hume will host a half-hour of coverage on FNC, followed by 30 minutes of H&C and an hour of Greta.

> Larry King will get instant reaction to the announcement at 9pm, followed by NewsNight at 10. WHAC notes that 360 will repeat tonight, rather than Paula Zahn Now.

> Since Chris Matthews is on vacation this week, Dan Abrams is getting a lot of face time. After hosting The Abrams Report, he’ll host Hardball; then at 9, he’ll sit on Tucker Carlson’s ‘Situation’ panel. MSNBC will air a second live edition of the Situation at 11pm.

> Also: ABC had an apparent scoop around 5pm: “Judge Edith Clement…is not President Bush’s choice for the high court,” a source told the network…

White House Asks Nets To Broadcast 9pm Supreme Court Announcement

Scott McClellan walked into the press briefing room and said bluntly: “The president has made a decision and will be announcing his nominee to the Supreme Court at 9 o’clock.” The AP reports: “McClellan said the Bush administration was asking television outlets to broadcast the speech live.”

> Karl who?

> Update: 1:50pm: “Bush’s announcement at 9:00 p.m. EDT will last 10 minutes. The nominee will be present. They will take no questions,” the Daily Nightly says.

> Bush may pre-empt: NBC: “I Want To Be A Hilton.” ABC: “According to Jim.” CBS: “Big Brother 6.” Fox: “House.” CNN: “Animal fanatic Jeff Corwin joins us for a wild Tuesday.”

SCOTUS: Rehnquist Retirement “Bubbling?”

wilsonjuly7.jpgFox News correspondent Brian Wilson has entered the blogosphere with “The Wilson Watch.” He’s an excerpt from his inaugural post: “The other story we are watching (though it’s off the main page for the moment) is the Supreme Court. I have no solid information on other resignations, but there is a growing sense on Capitol Hill that something is in the works. Some of the same sources that helped me break the Sandra Day O’Connor story a week ago suggest that there is something bubbling just beneath the surface. We’ll see. I personally think there will be no announcements with the president out of the country.”

SCOTUS: Round-Up #4

oconnor3july1.jpg > An FNCer responds to the suggestion that Brian Wilson broke the O’Connor news thanks to the Heritage e-mail: “FNC’s Brian Wilson broke the Justice O’Connor news because of old fashioned, nose to the ground, reporting. Brian has been on this story for weeks and his hard work, reliable sources and sheer determination enabled him to be the very first to report on what you have called ‘The Biggest Story Of The Summer.’” The image on the right was taken by an FNC DC crew outside her home on Monday, June 27…

> “I’ve been waiting down here all week trying to read the tea leaves…This morning there was a definite sense in the air here that something was going to happen,” NBC’s Pete Williams blogs on

> David Brock writes to Roger Ailes: “I am writing to demand that Fox News Channel remove C. Boyden Gray from his position as a Supreme Court analyst. Gray’s involvement as a leading player in the coming Supreme Court nomination battle makes him an inappropriate choice to serve as an analyst for Fox News, and Fox’s failure to disclose Gray’s conflict of interest to its viewers only compounds the problem.”

> MSNBC has scheduled “The Supreme Court: Defining America” for Saturday at 7pm. Chris Matthews will be joined by Jon Meachem and Brian Williams, the press release says…

> Today’s CNN Morning Grind e-mail newsletter — filed prior to O’Connor’s announcement — mourned “the week that wasn’t, a lesson in how the media sometimes makes too little distinction between news and speculation.” Quoting the Hotline, which quotes the Grind: ” ‘We’ve gone out in this limb and proclaimed a SCOTUS-free summer’ which seems to be the one way to ensure that Chief Justice William Rehnquist will announce his retirement, ‘perhaps later this morning. It never fails.’ ”