The nation’s biggest TV-news outlets are hoping to get a ratings halo by devoting resources to this week’s U.S. visit by Pope Francis.
TV-news correspondents will fan out across the trail of his visit, which is taking Pontifex Maximus from Cuba to Washington, D.C., to New York and, finally, to Philadelphia. But few will have the eye-view of NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson, CBS News operative Allen Pizzey, and ABC News correspondent Terry Moran, all of whom are traveling with the Holy Father on the Papal plane throughout his trip from Rome and back again. Thompson’s reporting is scheduled to appear on both MSNBC and NBC.
Many of the country’s most recognizable anchors – from Fox News Channel’s Shepard Smith to ABC News’ David Muir – will converge on Washington, D.C. as Pope Francis visits there today and Wednesday. Both CBS’ Scott Pelley and ABC’s David Muir are set to anchor their respective evening-news programs, “The CBS Evening News” and “World News Tonight,” from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Muir on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Pelley on Wednesday. Muir will also anchor from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on September 24 and from Philadelphia on September 27. Lester Holt, the anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News,” is expected to hold forth live from” unique locations in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, New York on Thursday and Friday, and Philadelphia on Sunday,” NBC News said.
For the networks, a big news event represents a chance to burnish credentials and impress viewers with interesting “gets” and reporting. This particular visit will have more importance than usual to MSNBC, which is sort of debuting formally a new daytime lineup devoted to breaking news and brought more in tandem with the operations of NBC News.
The timing of the Pope’s visit dovetails with the return of Brian Williams to NBCUniversal-owned properties. He is expected to broadcast for the first time in months since leaving NBC’s “Nightly News” in the wake of his acknowledgement he falsified some details he had been telling about a past reporting trip. Williams will anchor Tuesday’s coverage and will be joined by Kate Snow, Chuck Todd, Steve Kornacki, Andrea Mitchell, Kasie Hunt and others. Chris Matthews will anchor live from Philadelphia beginning on Friday, September 25 ahead of the Pope’s masses and events which will take place throughout the weekend.
On cable, the papal visit will be covered extensively. Fox News Channel has scheduled live coverage throughout the week. Chief News Anchor Shepard Smith will headline coverage from Washington, D.C. on Wednesday September 23rd while Martha MacCallum will report live from the Congressional rotunda on Thursday, September 24th. Bill Hemmer will anchor coverage from New York and Philadelphia, covering Papal visits to the United Nations and Pennsylvania. CNN also plans extensive coverage, with Pope Francis’ activity likely to be featured across every hour and on every program. Rosa Flores is traveling in the press pool with Pope Francis. Jim Sciutto will be one of our lead correspondents, along with many others in Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. Chris Cuomo anchors a special report on the Pope, airing this evening at 9 p.m. eastern,
Morning-news programs, some of the most competitive among the news outlets, will also feature coverage. Norah O’Donnell of “CBS This Morning” will anchor the program from Washington tomorrow and Thursday. George Stephanopoulos will anchor ABC’s “Good Morning America” from Washington, D.C. on September 23 and 24, while Dan Harris will anchor the weekend version of the show from Philadelphia on the 27th. NBC’s “Today” will broadcast live from Washington both tomorrow and Thursday with anchors Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.