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How Lynn Sweet’s Race Question Trumped Healthcare

The final question at last night’s presidential news conference came from Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times and had to do with the arrest of Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates. It was Pres. Obama’s answer that became the lead news item last night on Nightline and on the three broadcast news shows. Time‘s James Poniewozik thinks he knows why:

Obama helped guarantee news focus on Gates partly because his comments were so much better – direct, animated, witty and to the point – than what he said on health care… Is it now less important than a police case – however newsy and however linked to big social issues – in Massachusetts? No, but the decision of most of the newscasts today showed that exciting beats important.

In any case, there was one winner in all this: CNN, which debuted its special Black in America 2 right after the news conference. As Soledad O’Brien said on CNN this morning, “It was good timing for us.”

As we reported this morning, Gates gave his first network interview on the matter at CNN’s “Black in America 2″ panel discussion held just before Obama’s news conference.

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