TV anchors hunt for Obama exclusives on foreign trip
WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama drags with him a gaggle of reporters (wire services, newspaper, radio and television) wherever he goes, but when he heads overseas soon, he will have some television news stars accompanying him.
All three broadcast television network anchors, ABC’s Charlie Gibson, CBS’s Katie Couric and NBC’s Brian Williams, are negotiating to tag along, and according to the Washington Post they could each have an exclusive interview in different countries.
Obama is expected to travel through Europe (there has already been a kerfuffle about where he speaks in Berlin) and the Middle East, and he is also expected to make stops in Iraq and Afghanistan to see firsthand the status of the wars. He has been an outspoken critic of the conflicts, arguing the Bush administration took its eye off al Qaeda in Afghanistan to go to war with Iraq.
The interesting contrast the Washington Post and New York Times make about Obama’s trip is that when his rival, Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, went to London, France and the Middle East no television network anchors joined the trek.
But there are risks associated with having high-profile anchors and bright television spotlights along for the ride — if Obama makes a gaffe, it has the potential to lead the nightly newscasts and give McCain an opening to attack.
One need only look at McCain’s March trip when got tangled up in Amman, Jordan, where he mistakenly accused Iran of backing the Sunni extremist group al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States believes it is Shi’ite militants that Iran is backing and Democrats jumped all over him.
– Photo credit: Jim Young (Williams with Obama in May after an interview); Molly Riley (Couric before an interview in 2007)