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Dorner Cornered, California Manhunt Pushes Up Against State of the Union Coverage

In the hour leading up to the State of the Union, the cable news networks would ordinarily be in continuing coverage of the President’s annual address. Instead, they have been in breaking news mode as choppers hover over a remote cabin in a California forest. Inside that cabin, is believed to be murder suspect and former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner.

On CNN, new anchor Chris Cuomo and old hand Anderson Cooper teamed up for coverage for part of the early evening. At one point, correspondent Miguel Marquez on the scene in San Bernardino County, took off his lapel microphone and clipped it on a Sheriff’s Dept. spokesperson who updated the media on the situation. She didn’t have much to offer, and appeared not to appreciate Marquez’s pressing questions. Wolf Blitzer took over at 8:50pm with State of the Union coverage.

On MSNBC, Chris Matthews put politics aside and anchored coverage of the shootout and fire leading up to the State of the Union. During a lull in the news, Matthews commented on, “this strange connection of the mind that becomes criminal and the love of media attention. And the way this person, apparently, was seeking out media attention. Mentioning names of people in the media, myself even.”

On FNC, the network’s breaking news aficionado, Shepard Smith is halfway around the world in Rome covering the breaking news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, leaving much of the anchoring late today to Trace Gallagher in the Los Angeles bureau. During the 8pm hour, as the misinformation swirled like smoke from that cabin, Bill O’Reilly was the voice of reason for weary anchors, reporters and viewers: “It doesn’t matter [about conflicting information]. It will clarify itself. In a breaking news story like this that happens all the time.”

More: As CNN takes the State of the Union coverage, Anderson Cooper continued with the breaking news on HLN along with Nancy Grace.

More: Brian Williams on NBC and Diane Sawyer on ABC briefed viewers about the situation in Southern California before getting to the State of the Union coverage

More: As the president spoke, law enforcement in Big Bear removed a body from the burned out cabin. It is believed to be Dorner. After the president concluded his address, the networks returned to the situation in California. Diane Sawyer brought in ABC’s Pierre Thomas who reported the news. CNN reported the same. Marquez had confirmed it earlier, at 9:59pmET, on HLN.

Update, 11:35pmET: So it appears the sources relied upon by CNN, ABC, NBC and others who reported a body being taken out of the cabin, were not accurate. During a news conference from the scene the San Bernardino Country Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said no body had been found, identified or recovered from the cabin.

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