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CBS News Boss on Sticking with Obama Analysis

obama-address2_12-2.jpgThis afternoon, CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus sent an email to staff about the network’s coverage of Pres. Obama’s Afghanistan address and the network’s decision to stay with post-speech analysis, saying that it was actually CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves who made the call.

Final numbers are not available yet, but CBS drew the most viewers for the address in the preliminary overnights, with 10.16M Total Viewers watching between 8-8:30pmET and 8.95 million Total Viewers during post-address analysis leading up to 9pmET.

In the email, obtained by TVNewser, McManus thanked everyone for their work on the Katie Couric-anchored broadcast and said of the decision to stick with the full hour, “Our philosophy is that the content and quality of our news is more important than the ratings. I will not get into specifics about the numbers here, but I do think that we should all feel good that last night’s great work also had a great audience.”

McManus’ full email after the jump.


Subject: Message from Sean McManus

I want to acknowledge and thank everyone involved in last night’s outstanding coverage of the Presidential Address at West Point.

CBS News’ coverage of the war in Afghanistan has been second to none and, in our continued commitment to giving this important issue the focus it deserves, we presented our special report last night as an element of the acclaimed Afghanistan: The Road Ahead series. As a measure of how crucial we feel this story is to America, CBS, alone among the networks, devoted the entire hour to the President’s speech and analysis. The others chose to break away.

Katie anchored an absolutely exceptional hour of news on a life-and-death issue and on a speech that, in Bob’s insightful words, may prove to be “the defining moment” of Barack Obama’s presidency.

It’s also important to note that the decision to turn over the entire hour to the News Division for this coverage was not mine, it was that of our boss, Leslie Moonves, who said to me that this was too important an event for us to rush off the air. That allowed us not only to present the speech, but also to report on it and to examine its implications with CBS correspondents from around the globe, and illustrates once again that the support we receive from Leslie and this corporation is extraordinary.

Our philosophy is that the content and quality of our news is more important than the ratings. I will not get into specifics about the numbers here, but I do think that we should all feel good that last night’s great work also had a great audience. Viewers came to CBS and they stayed for the entire hour.

Thanks to Paul, Rick and his entire team, all our correspondents and analysts and to everyone behind the camera who worked on making last night’s coverage such a substantive and critical success.

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