NEW YORK — The California recall contest will look more like a national election today as cable news nets and broadcast news divisions provide blanket coverage of the unprecedented citizen referendum.
ABC News, CBS News and NBC News have sent their evening news anchors — Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, respectively — to Los Angeles, along with teams of correspondents and producers.
No one in the news biz can remember another state election covered on the ground by all three network anchors.
Cable news networks are in the best position, however, since they have all the airtime they need. Like their broadcast brethren, they have substantial staff on the ground in California.
CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC are planning election specials throughout the day and through the night. Crunch time comes at 8 p.m. PT, when the polls close in California.
Beginning when the doors to the polls are locked, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will anchor “CA Votes: Recall 2003” from a studio in L.A. Earlier, “Inside Politics” host Judy Woodruff and “Crossfire” co-hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson will anchor their shows from the West Coast as well.
At Fox News, Washington correspondent and managing editor Brit Hume will anchor special election analysis beginning at 8 p.m. “Fox News Sunday” host Tony Snow and political contributors Mara Liasson and Michael Barone will aid Hume. Throughout the day and night, Fox News correspondents Major Garrett, Adam Housely and Trace Gallagher will report from the field.
At MSNBC, political journo Chris Matthews will anchor a large chunk of the evening’s coverage, with live reports from NBC News correspondents. Matthews will be joined by a panel of political experts including MSNBC analyst and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan; former Nixon speechwriter and comedian Ben Stein; and MSNBC senior political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell.
All the broadcast and cable TV news networks will share exit polling data collected by Mitofsky Intl. and Edison Media Research.