by Stine Eckert
For this blog I concentrate on NBC News.com's videos in the Latest Program, Web Only, and Politics section as well as on the First Read blog, which is part of MSNBC.
NBC Nightly News online seems to deliver reports about the Democratic and the Republican campaign daily now – an interesting balance that is only disturbed by the absence of Senator Biden most of the time. I also got the impression that more time is spent on each single campaign package, which often runs at least three or four to five minutes if both campaigns are covered in one clip.
Spirits that I've cited, my commands ignored
The most surprising moment during this week was Senator John McCain's repeated defense of Senator Barack Obama. In an almost four minutes long clip, NBC detailed McCain's attempts to calm down a few of his most furious fans: “He’s a decent family man and citizen and you do not have to be scared of him as a president.”
In return, Obama praised McCain for calming the tone of the increasingly caustic Republican campaign...
...and Senator Palin was found to have violated state ethic laws.
Another couple of surprises on the Democratic side: On Sunday (Oct. 12, 2008) there was a rare report about Senator Joe Biden campaigning with Bill and Hillary Clinton in his home state Pennsylvania. And as the First Read blog author Mark Murray put it: “at times, one could confuse the affair for a Clinton rally.”
The user could also mistake NBC's video clip of for an old Clinton stump report because it said little about Senator Biden. But it indicated that Hillary Clinton seems to be a better loser than everyone thought with stumping for Senator Barack Obama at more than 50 events, raising about $10 million for campaigning despite her own campaign debt of about $20 million. NBC’s Ron Allen who interviewed Hillary Clinton said she has not quite gotten over the defeat by Obama but “she’s going to be the good soldier and be out there do what ever Barack Obama says he needs.”
Where They Stand on Oil Drilling and Appointing Surpreme Court Judges
NBC added two more pieces to its Where They Stand feature: juggling new Supreme Court judges and oil drilling.
The latter topic has been in the mainstream media long and often enough but this report of last Tuesday is a nice summary of the candidates’ approaches to oil drilling. It wraps up what mainstream media has been reporting before: McCain advocates more domestic oil production and Obama recently changed his mind on offshore drilling admitting it might be okay for a short-term solution, but he would combine it with a windfall tax on oil companies and seeks alternative energy sources for a long-term energy policy.
More interesting is an aspect that hasn’t been discussed that often yet. As the Supreme Court term has started recently, NBC looks at the next president’s opportunity to use his power to appoint new judges for the Supreme Court. NBC Chief Justice Correspondent Pete Williams gives an overview of McCain's potential picks (conservatives like John Roberts and Samuel Alito) and Obama’s would-be choice (someone with empathy for teenage moms, gay, poor, disabled or African-American). Judge John Paul Stevens (88) is likely to retire before the first term of the next president ends as no judge had ever worked after turning 90. An Obama pick would uphold the current balance of four conservatives, four liberals and Judge Anthony Kennedy’s swing vote, an appointment by McCain would shift the court toward conservatism. Experts say that both candidates would bend toward a young person, maybe a woman, or a Hispanic.
Guns for Obama and College Students Political Soul Searching
Plus, NBC added an episode about guns to its Briefing Book ’08 series solving the riddle how Senator Obama interprets the 2nd Amendment: “Both McCain and Obama agree with the Supreme Court's fundamental assertion in the Heller case that gun ownership is an ‘individual right’ – not a collective right associated with service in a militia – upheld by the Second Amendment.”
And Luke Russert delivered another long form feature in his series of visiting colleges to get a feel for the younger voter’s choice (again with nice background music). This time (Wednesday, October 8, 2008) Russert put his microphone in front of Wake Forest University students in North Carolina, which has turned into a swing state.
One girl says: “I support McCain.
Russert: “Are you steadfast in that support or could you lean back to Obama?”
Girl: “I think that I can be convinced by anyone. I’m just sticking to the topics that I’m looking at right now."
Albeit a little redundant, NBC might want to turn this consistent web only feature into a series with a name and place on the website as these pieces (before also from Georgetown University, D.C., and Bryn Mawr) build an interesting kaleidoscopic picture of college age voters who are as mobilized in this elections as probably seldom before. Where will Luke Russert go next to get reactions from the third and last of this season’s presidential debates?
The Usual Missing Suspects
Despite some pseudo Biden coverage, there was nothing about him, his approaches, and activies. Again, this week gave a full ladle of pure campaigning drama spiced with some polls but little meaty substance such as issues (except for the economy we breathe daily). And where are the third parties represented in U.S. democracy?