For Release:  Sept. 23, 2008

CNN Pulls Out All Stops for Coverage of First McCain-Obama Presidential Debate

Network Deploys ‘Best Political Team on Television,’ Election Express, ‘Magic Wall’ for ‘Debate Night in America’ on Friday, Sept. 26

On the heels of the network’s top-rated primary and convention coverage, CNN will air the first presidential debate between Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) live from The University of Mississippi in high-definition on Friday, Sept. 26, across multiple platforms.

Anchors Wolf Blitzer, Campbell Brown and Anderson Cooper will preside over coverage from the state-of-the-art CNN Election Center in New York.  The day’s coverage will kick-off with special debate-focused editions of The Situation Room from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by Lou Dobbs Tonight from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Campbell Brown: Election Center from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The first presidential debate will air from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., with a special edition of Anderson Cooper 360° following from 10:30 p.m. to midnight which will provide analysis and commentary on the evening’s developments.  Chief national correspondent John King will be in the studio with the “Magic Wall” to provide in-depth analysis on demographic and delegate data.  As the first presidential debate will be focused on foreign affairs, chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour and Baghdad-based correspondent Michael Ware will contribute their analysis from a global perspective.

Throughout the special coverage, senior political analyst Gloria Borger, senior political analyst David Gergen and senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin will be on hand to offer their analysis. Additionally, CNN political contributors Paul Begala, Bill Bennett, Donna Brazile, James Carville, Alex Castellanos, Roland Martin and Leslie Sanchez will provide insight from their perspectives across the ideological spectrum.

CNN correspondents Dana Bash, Candy Crowley, Ed Henry, Suzanne Malveaux, Jessica Yellin and senior political analyst Bill Schneider will be live on location at the debate site with the CNN Election Express in Oxford, Miss.  The Election Express will serve not only as an on-the-ground broadcast location, but also as a production facility and newsroom for the CNN political unit.

CNN special correspondent Soledad O’Brien will moderate a focus group in Columbus, Ohio.  The group will be comprised of a selection of voters from the hotly contested state.  During the debate, the participants will operate electronic dial testers that will allow television viewers to see the group’s reactions in real time.  In addition, viewers watching the broadcast in high-definition will see exclusive editorial information and commentary appearing on the side panels of their screens throughout the debate.

The first presidential debate will air live on CNN/U.S. and will simulcast on CNN International, CNN en Español and CNN Airport Network.  The debate will also stream live on Live, the’s multi-stream, live video news service.  On Saturday, Sept. 27, the debate will replay on CNN/U.S. at midnight and 3 a.m. and on CNN International at 5 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Online, will provide live updates as newsmaking moments happen during the debate., the site’s political news gateway, will feature complete coverage and analysis before, during and after the debate.  Up-to-the-minute analysis will be available from the CNN Political Unit on the Political Ticker, the Internet’s No. 1 political news blog according to Nielsen Online.  Users also are encouraged to engage in real-time conversation about the debates on The Forum,’s recently launched destination for social and political self-expression.

In addition to live streaming the debate in its entirety, Live offers users the ability to watch real-time commentary from bloggers on both the left and right. Live anchor Melissa Long will host hour-long pre- and post-debate shows including analysis from the ‘Best Political Team on Television.’  For its post-debate coverage, will offer users the ability to watch the entire debate online through video on-demand and full text transcripts. Additional post-debate coverage will include Report Cards for each candidate featuring “grades” from CNN political analysts as well as debate performance ratings from users.  A special edition of the AC360 podcast, including the entire debate and featuring a special introduction from Anderson Cooper, will be available on iTunes on Saturday, Sept. 27.

      , CNN’s unfiltered user-generated news community, is inviting iReporters to share their video analysis of the debate, as well as the ways and places people are watching the debate around the country.

CNN Radio will carry the full debate live for its affiliates. At the conclusion of the debate, CNN Radio will provide a half-hour program with post-debate analysis.

CNN Newsource will provide its affiliates access to on-site reports from correspondents Sandra Endo, John Zarrella and RunningMate correspondent Samantha Hayes.

The Election Express Yourself, the network’s customized Airstream trailer designed to give Americans across the nation an interactive political experience, will make a stop at the debate site.  The trailer will be located at the Grove on the University of  Mississippi’s campus, from noon to 10 p.m.

In an effort to help educators and parents discuss the political process with students, CNN Student News, CNN's cost-and-commercial-free educational program for middle and high schools, is offering several free resources, including a downloadable one-sheet, a "Debates Viewing Guide,"  and a video explainer about presidential debates. These online tools can be accessed by visiting <> .

CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is the most trusted source for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; CNN Digital Network, the No. 1 network of news Web sites in the United States; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively syndicated news service; and strategic international partnerships within both television and the digital media.


For more information, visit <> .


Edie Emery                            Washington, D.C.                               

Megan Grant                         Washington, D.C.