MISSING IRAQ WEAPONS:
ABC led with an extensive discussion of the politics of the day, leading with Monday's tracking poll showing Kerry at 49% and Bush at 48%. ABC then reported on the 380 tons of missing weapons and played sound of Kerry's accusing the President of "unbelievable incompetence."
Following Kerry's bite ABC's Martha Raddatz's reported in that the Pentagon "tried to shift the blame" today, saying '"although some believe the facility may have been looted, there is no way to verify this'… suggesting that the site was emptied by regime loyalists prior to the US invasion."
Following Raddatz's package Jennings asked Terry Moran that the story "could not have been good news" for Bush, and Moran reported that the Bush campaign has kept "the President away from the story" while letting staffers "lash out at Sen. Kerry."
NBC's Jim Miklaszewski led "Evening News" reporting that when American troops seized the Al Qaqaa facility they "never found" the weapons that are now missing. But David Kay tells Miklaszewski that the weapons were "left unguarded." Miklaszewski closed saying "President Bush today ordered a full investigation" and that IAEA's release of their prewar warning so close to the election appeared to some "highly political."
NBC's Carl Quintanilla included Kerry's criticism of President Bush in his package about Clinton and Kerry, the second of "Nightly News."
CBS' Ed Bradley led "Evening News" with the most specific (and critical of the U.S.) package (3:30!) about the missing weapons that did not advance the story but included much of its original reporting. The package did not mention Kerry's criticism of the President over the story.
CBS' John Roberts followed Bradley, reporting that "this is not the way Bush wanted to start the last week of the campaign." Roberts was the only correspondent to include sound from Bush's interview with Hannity.
In a separate package ABC's Terry Moran noted that the President's direct pitch to Democrats today was striking because of his campaign's previous statements that Bush could win simply by turning out his base. The campaign, Moran concluded, now believes "he needs more than just Republicans to defeat John Kerry."
NBC's David Gregory reported in his open that "Despite the Iraq story, President Bush did not shy away from turning up the heat on John Kerry" today, taking John Kennedy's words to accuse Bush of replacing "at any price" to "cut and run." Gregory closed saying BC04 is today "eager to create the appearance of momentum."
ABC played extensive sound from Charlie Gibson's interview with President Bush.
ABC's Dean Reynolds reported that Clinton was "clearly in his element" introducing Kerry. Reynolds included the most Clinton sound of any of the newscasts as well as video of local stations blanketing their coverage with Clinton.
ABC's Stephanopoulos noted that Clinton got a lower percentage of the black vote (a little under 85%) than the three Democratic nominees who lost: Gore, Mondale, and Dukakis.
CBS' Byron Pitts reported that Clinton's mission was to remind voters about the number of jobs lost since January 2001 and noted that the most recent CBS/NYT poll showed Kerry with 82% support among black voters compared with Gore's more than 90%.
ABC also played extensive sound from Diane Sawyer's interview with Bill Clinton.
NBC's Pete Williams included a statement from the Hotline's Chuck Todd saying Rehnquist's cancer reminded voters of how large an effect the President has on the SCOTUS.
ABC's Stephanopoulos said that the story "fires up both bases" before Manny Medrano reported on how divided the Court is right now.
NBC's Brian Williams reported on the Coors/Salazar Colorado Senate race and said the $14 million raised by the campaigns was a "Rocky Mountain high." Williams described Salazar as "until recently, not aligned" with Kerry, and included video of a commercial with Coors beer's twin female mascots as well as video of a gay pride event in Canada sponsored by Coors beer.
Peter Jennings noted that Kerry is traveling 1077 miles today, and "his plane doesn't have a bed," while Bush traveled 1558 miles – and "you can lie down on Air Force One – "not to mention it's a heck of powerful symbol when it shows up on the tarmac."