Media Coverage
Sen. John Edwards' Exploratory Announcement
Thursday, January 2, 2003

Sen. John Edwards announced exploratory committee from his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, first in an appearance on the "Today" show and then in a 10:30 a.m. press conference in front of the house.

Networks' Nightly Newscasts (Jan. 2, 2003)
Of the three nightly newscasts, CBS provided the most generous coverage related to Edwards' announcement, including a bit more than a minute of an interview anchor Scott Pelley did with him earlier via satellite.  This gave viewers an opportunity to hear from Edwards directly.  ABC's coverage included a montage of clips showing Edwards in action while anchor Elizabeth Vargas talked about him.  ABC also devoted a bit over a minute to a discussion between anchor Elizabeth Vargas and George Stephanopolous analyzing Edwards and the Democratic race generally.  NBC's coverage was the thinnest.  Although the audience heard as much from Edwards--19 seconds--as in the ABC piece, the overall presentation was distracting.  In one way or another, all three broadcasts used footage from Edwards' 10:30 a.m. press conference outside his house in Raleigh.  All three ran the story before the first ad break.

The Morning Papers (Jan. 3, 2003)
The New York Times and the Washington Times provided fairly standard, no frills coverage of the announcement, putting the story inside the paper and using unrevealing headshot photos.  USA Today went further, running a front page article on Edwards and another article inside the front section.  The inside article used two rather creative photos--a wide shot showing Edwards and the reporters, and a nice shot of Edwards with his young daughter.  The Washington Post put the story and a color photo on its front page, although the photo was a fairly standard shot.  However, the Post added a unique angle, another article in the "Style" section addressing the question "What Makes People Like John Edwards Think They Can Lead?" Three of the four papers included a profile box with their articles.
The Morning Papers
The New York Times p.A2 A paragraph in the News Summary.
p.A13 Adam Nagourney
Associated Press
Headline: "Senator Edwards Enters Race for President" (1 line, 3 col.)
3 columns of text with photo in middle column and pull quote in third column.  [Quote "A candidate promises to 'champion the cause of regular people.'"]
Photo: Medium close up shot of Edwards speaking during the press conference (1 col. wide).
USA Today p.1A
below fold
Jill Lawrence
Headline: "N. Carolina's freshman senator will run for president" (1 line, 4 col.)
4 columns of text with a narrow 7/8" wide box in the middle.  The box has a small AP headshot of Edwards, refers to article on 3A.
p.3A Jill Lawrence
Karl DeBlaker, AP
Headline: "Edwards' roots fit party's needs" (1 line, 4 col.)
Bank Head: "Ambitious N.C. senator hails from blue-collar Southern family" (4 lines)
4 columns of text including two photos and a 1-column profile box.
Photo: Dominant photo is a wide shot from the press conference showing Edwards from the back/side and more than a dozen reporters at work (3 col. wide).
Photo: Secondary photo is a medium shot of Edwards holding his daughter (1 col. wide).
The Washington Post p.A1 Dan Balz
WP Staff Writer
Karl Deblaker -Associated Press
Headline: "N.C. Sen. Edwards Announces Bid For White House" (3 lines, 1 col.)
2 columns of text with color photo.
Photo: Medium shot, tightly cropped of Edwards speaking during the press conference, both his hands are open in front of him.
p.A4 jump Headline: "Edwards Announces White House Bid" (1 line, 3 col.)
3 columns of text including a 1-column profile box.
David Montgomery
WP Staff Writer
NBC via Associated Press
Headline: "A Dash Of Ego In the Race" (3 lines, 1 col.) 
Bank Head: "What Makes People Like John Edwards Think They Can Lead?"
1-column of text with color photo at bottom.
Photo: TV image from Edwards' appearance on the "Today" show.
p.C2 jump
Robert Willett-The News & Observer via AFP.
Headline "Edwards for President?  Heck, Why Not?" (1 line, 4 col.)
6 columns of text including 5 file photos of past and present presidential candidates and a 2-column wide photo from the 10:30 press conference.
Photo: Wide shot from the back shows Edwards standing talking to reporters during the press conference (2 col. wide).
The Washington Times p.A4 James G. Lakely
Headline: "Edwards makes it official, will run for Democratic nomination in 2004 race" (3 lines, 2 col.)
2 columns of text including a 1-column profile box containing a small cut-out head and shoulders photo of Edwards (AP although not indicated).
Atlanta Journal-Constitution p.A3 Two articles and a three column photo fill a swath across the middle 60 percent of the page, left to right.
Scott Shepard
Headline: "North Carolinian is a legal legend" (1 line, 3 col.)
Bank head: "Courtroom experience could boost campaign"
3 columns of text.
Scott Shepard
Headline: "Edwards joins race as fighter 'for the people'" (3 lines, 2 col.)
2 columns of text.
Karl DeBlaker/
Associated Press
Photo: Medium close up shot of Edwards speaking during the press conference.  His hands are raised to a bit below shoulder height, palms facing outward; trees and railing blurry in the background (3 col. wide).
Chicago Tribune p.A1 AP photo by Karl DeBlaker Photo: Medium close up shot of Edwards speaking during the press conference (1 col. wide) under the headline "Bush plans big push on economy" refers the reader to page A9.
p.A9 Jeff Zeleny 
Tribune National from Crawford, Texas
[missing credit line]
Headline: "Edwards joins presidential race" (1 line, 4 col.)
Bank head: "N.C. senator vows 'stark alternative' to Bush agenda"
4 columns of text under 4-column photo; includes sidebar "A quick look at Sen. John Edwards"
Photo: Medium wide shot of Edwards speaking at the press conference shows Edwards from his head to a bit below the knees.  Two hands with microphones are reaching in from the bottom of the frame.  The house is in the background, and a photographer, quite small, is in the distance (4 col. wide).
Houston Chronicle inside page Will Lester
Associated Press
Headline: "List of Democrats growing for 2004 race" (1 line, 4 col.)
Bank head: "Edwards announces bid; Gephardt to form an exploratory committee"
6 columns of text across the top of the page includes pull quote from Sen. Kerry and 2-column box with photos of Dean, Edwards, Kerry; Daschle, Gephardt, Graham, and Lieberman.  [5 paragraphs about 2/3rds of the way into the article focus on Edwards].
Philadelphia Inquirer p.A3 Jodi Enda and Diego Ibarguen 
Inquirer Wash. Bureau
Headline: "Edwards' pitch: Voice for others" (1 line, 4 col.)
Bank head: "He confirmed a run for president in '04.  He said he would be  a champion for regular people"
4 columns of text includes tightly cropped headshot, uncredited, less than one column wide.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Note: No front page mention of Edwards; lead headline across the top of the page is "Gephardt steps toward presidential bid"
p.A2 In a column down the right side of the page with several odds and ends (Extra Edition, Looking Forward, Quotables) the Quotables quote is from Edwards "If I am the nominee of the Democrats in 2004, what I will be is somebody who champions the cause of regular people.  Not insiders, regular people--people who don't have lobbyists."
p.A4 New York Times Headline: "Sen. Edwards throws hat in '04 presidential ring" (3 lines, 2 col.)
5 columns of text including three-column photo.
Photo: Wide shot shows Edwards from the back, standing, talking; five TV cameras and a dozen or so reporters looking toward him.
Photo: A small, half-column wide, tightly cropped head shot.
Note: Also on this page is a side bar "The field of Democrats" and the continuation of the Gephardt article.
San Francisco Chronicle p.A3 Scott Shepard
Cox News Service
note at bottom "The New York Times contributed to this report"

Karl DeBlaker/
Associated Press

Headline: "Third Democrat seeks presidency" (1 line, 4 col.)
Bank head: "Millionaire stresses blue-collar roots"
4 columns of text including two-column photo and side bar box on Edwards.  Pull quote: "I want to be a champion for the people I have fought for all my life--regular people."
Photo: Medium close up shot of Edwards speaking during the press conference -- same as used by the AJC (2 col. wide).
Note: Below this article is AP "Field of challengers growing article" with 7 headshots.
The Times-Picayune p.A3 Will Lester
Associated Press writer
note at bottom "The Times-Pacayune contributed to this report."
Headline: "Democratic field for 2004 quickly growing crowded" (2 lines, 3 col.)
Bank head: "Edwards, Gephardt join presidential race"
3 columns of text including a 2-column wide box that takes up about a third of the space.  [5 paragraphs about 2/3rds of the way into the article focus on Edwards.  The Times-Picayune addition upcoming Edwards visit to Louisiana and reaction from Sen. John Breaux].

Nightly Newscasts

ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings
A 2min. 20 sec. piece on Edwards' announcement ran. about 9 min. 30 sec. into the broadcast, following lead stories on the struggling economy/previews of Bush's plan and on build up to a possible war with Iraq.  An ad break followed the Edwards piece.  The piece included two sound bites from Edwards' 10:30 press conference totaling a bit over 19 sec.  More than a minute was devoted to a discussion between the anchor, Elizabeth Vargas, and ABC's George Stephanopoulos assessing Edwards' strengths and the early campaign generally.
10 sec. Elizabeth Vargas (anchor, filling in for PJ): In presidential politics today in North Carolina Senator John Edwards said he will seek the Democratic nomination for president.
7 sec. Edwards (clip from 10:30 press conf.): "I run for president to be champion, to be a champion for the same people I've fought for all my life--regular folks."
24 sec. Vargas voice-over:
Montage of clips and images of Edwards
[Edwards "Good to see you."]  John Edwards is a millionaire personal injury lawyer.  The son of a textile worker made his name convincing juries to give enormous awards to people who suffered terrible injuries.  He won his clients more than $150 million before joining the Senate four years ago, and insurance companies were terrified of him.  [Edwards "How're you doing?"] He now says he wants to fight for working people.
12 sec. Edwards (clip from 10:30 press conf.): "I think these people are entitled to a change in the White House, somebody who goes to work every day sees things through their eyes and who provides real ideas about how to make their lives better."
22 sec Vargas: Edwards joins a rapidly crowding field...[description of the field]
1 min. 3 sec. Vargas and George Stephanopoulos: Discussion of Edwards' strengths and the early campaign generally.

CBS Evening News
A very brief clip of Edwards walking appeared in the headlines at the front of the broadcast ("New Bush Economy Plan Attacked by New Bush Challenger.")  The lead story focused on the possible war with Iraq.  About 3 min. 8 sec. into the broadcast, the story on the economy and Bush's plans to introduce an economic stimulus began; the lead was footage of Edwards walking out to his 10:30 press conference.  5 min. 3 sec. into the broadcast the section on Edwards' announcement began; it ran for about 1 min. 13 sec., of which over a minute was devoted to an interview Scott Pelley did with Edwards earlier.   Pelley asked a couple of challenging questions, but Edwards responded confidently.  For example when Pelley asked, "You're a millionaire trial lawyer by trade.  Do you really relate to the common man?" [his tone of voice seeming to imply, "You're a snake in the grass."] Edwards gave a very solid answer.
Headlines at beginning of broadcast
Bill Plante voiceover:
Almost 7 sec. footage of Edwards walking to 10:30 press conference
On the day that North Carolina Senator John Edwards became the third Democrat to declare for the president's job...
. [Story on the economy/previews of Bush plan]
10 sec. Scott Pelley:
Graphic: 2004 Presidential Race   then
Head Shot: Edwards
One of those Democrats Bill just mentioned, Senator John Edwards did attack the President's economic policies today.  Democrats are watching Edwards campaign for the nomination closely because he is a young, fresh face in national politics.  I talked with the Senator a short time ago and I asked him why he opposes the Bush tax cut plan.
1 min. 3 sec. Edwards (via satellite): My difference with the President is not that I disagree that we need tax cuts, my difference is what those tax cuts do .  I think we need tax cuts that go to people who need the tax cuts and for whom it 'll have a real impact on their lives, help them educate their kids, get access to health care, not tax cuts for the richest 1 percent of Americans.
Pelley: You're a millionaire trial lawyer by trade.  Do you really relate to the common man?
Edwards (via satellite): "My younger brother, who's a member of IBEW, is an electrical construction worker.  He just got laid off; he doesn't have a job.  My dad, who has a high school education, worked his whole life in the mill [pron. "me-al"].  These are the people that as a lawyer I represented for 20 years.  I lived in their homes, in their mobile homes; I saw what their lives were like.  I fought for them every single day."
Pelley: What would you say to someone watching this interview who says to themselves: first-term Senator from North Carolina, before that trial lawyer.  Not much in the way of foreign policy experience and it has become a very dangerous world.
Edwards (via satellite): "President Reagan came to office with very little foreign policy experience.  We've seen it in subsequent presidents.  President Clinton, with this president in the period immediately following 9-1-1.  So I think that what the American people want and what they should want in leadership in crisis situations in times of uncertainty are leaders they can rely on."
Pelley: Senator John Edwards, North Carolina, it's a long road.  Good luck to you sir.
Edwards (via satellite): "Thank you very much.  I'm glad to be with you Scott."

NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw
A piece slightly less than a minute long on the Edwards announcement ran about 3 min. 50 sec. into the broadcast.  It was closely tied to the lead story on the economy/previews of Bush's plan.  The piece included one sound bite from Edwards' 10:30 press conference totaling more than 19 seconds.  Slow motion footage of Edwards walking out to the press conference ran in the background while Brokaw was introducing and wrapping up the piece, producing a rather strange and distracting effect.
27 sec. Tom Brokaw:
In background: Slow motion footage of Edwards walking.
Decision 2004 logo.
And politics and the economy were on the mind of Senator John Edwards today in North Carolina as he talked to reporters about his decision to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.  Edwards was a successful trial lawyer before being elected to the Senate in 1998.  He's the first in his family to graduate from college.  Today he said he wants to be a champion for regular people and said he would have different economic priorities than the Bush administration.
19+ sec. Edwards (clip from 10:30 press conf.): "We need to cut some of the federal bureaucracy, budget, we need to cut some unnecessary federal spending, and we need to have tax cuts for the kind of folks that I want to champion, for regular folks, middle and low income people, and not tax cuts for the top 1 percent of America."
9 sec. Tom Brokaw:
In background: Slow motion footage of Edwards walking.
Edwards said the Bush administration is run quote largely by and for insiders and that the American people he said deserve a different choice.
the slow motion footage continued to run for a couple of seconds while Brokaw moved on to the next story


Copyright © 2003 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action