All networks treated the farm animal/cosmetics controversy as more important than Iraq, the economy, and health care, and meta-attempted to hold the McCain campaign accountable for its crocodile tears, forgetting or ignoring Michael Deaver’s rule about the importance of pictures over editorial points on TV.
ABC: Led with the “lipstick” furor– the latest instance of “short-fuse politics.” Package explicitly refuted the McCain team’s claim, saying Obama had spoken for more than 25 minutes and never mentioned Palin, and played McCain using the expression three times on other dates. Next report looked at the tactic of exaggerating or distorting an opponent’s words, also mentioning McCain ad loosely rendering Obama’s comments about Iran as well as Obama saying McCain wants to fight the Iraq War for 100 years. Next, Stephanopoulos looked at the electoral map, said the candidates appear to have roughly the same number of electoral votes. Predicted that two trios– Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan; and Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada— could be decisive.
CBS: Led with “mud slinging politics” of “lipstick” back-and-forth. Reported Wednesday marked a “sharp turn away from the issues and into a bitter war of words,” Larry Sabato said the situation benefits the McCain camp. Covered Obama’s response to “lipstick” controversy and previewed Letterman appearance. “Reality Check” played clips of McCain and Cheney using the “lipstick on a pig” expression and challenged accuracy of McCain ad on sex education. Ran piece on how Palin can “serve as a role model” for parents of Down syndrome children. Briefly mentioned that Palin is en route to Alaska.
NBC: Approached Obama’s “lipstick” remark gingerly, highlighting how one conservative commentator called the flap “beyond stupid,” recounting how many other politicians have used the expression. Said the back-and-forth threatens to push the real issues off to another day, and the skirmish seemed to be sidetracking Obama off the issues. Aired portion of McCain Telemundo interview where he derided the “negativism” in the campaign. Chuck Todd noted the McCain camp can’t afford to have too many campaign days about President Bush, the economy, needs to “create these distractions.”