BROOKE GLADSTONE:: And I'm Brooke Gladstone. [APPLAUSE]
PRESIDENT BUSH:: Advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East begins with ensuring the success of a free Iraq.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:: The President gave a major speech on Wednesday, and TV news reacted. For every story there's a formula, whether earthquake, missing child, sex scandal or State of the Union, but this event was none of those. So the anchors reached into their bags and pulled out the mode that fit the best - campaign reporting. They covered the plan for victory in Iraq as a stump speech. CNN's Soledad O'Brien and John King.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN:: John, is that message, that it's working, just give it time, do you think as we heard it in this speech today, do you think the public's going to buy it?
JOHN KING:: Well, it depends which segment of the public we're talking about. There are those - [SOUND FADES OUT]
BROOKE GLADSTONE:: In the context of the speech, the President's low poll numbers, the timing and the trappings of his appearance, sandwiched between a plan for victory wall motif and a sea of dress blues, politics pulsed and pounded like a rumba. So broadcast and cable danced the campaign Macarena and didn't miss a beat. MSNBC's Chris Matthews took the temperature of the heartland with a seasoned pol.
CHRIS MATTHEWS:: Governor, thank you for joining us. You know, Pennsylvania is, as I know, very much a middle-of-the-road state. It's almost a purple state. And, in fact, the last Presidential election last November, 8,000 votes divided the state; it was that close.
GOVERNOR RENDELL:: Right.
CHRIS MATTHEWS:: Where's it going on the war? Where do you feel, when you talk to people about where they feel about Iraq?
GOVERNOR RENDELL:: Well, I think Pennsylvanians, like a lot of Americans, are confused, but there's no question - [SOUND FADES OUT]
BROOKE GLADSTONE:: ABC's George Stephanopoulos trekked out to Wal-Mart for some vox populi - 'cause that's where the populi go.
SGEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:: So you don't think it's time for the troops to come home.
WOMAN:: No. No. Positively not.
WOMAN:: How many kids do we have to kill? Do you think I'm sending my son somewhere else to get killed? No. My daughter's in the… [SOUND TRAILS OFF]
BROOKE GLADSTONE:: And CNN even fact-checked the President's account of a battle, which was actually useful. Embedded Time Magazine reporter, Michael Ware.
MICHAEL WARE:: I was with Iraqi units, right there on the front line, as they were battling with al Qaeda. They were not leading. They were being led by the U.S. Green Beret Special Forces with them, Green Berets who were following an American plan of attack.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:: There was the inevitable overnight poll, confirming what we already knew, that most people don't like how the war is going, but don't like the idea of a deadline. For the media, probably the scariest finding was that only a third of those polled knew anything about the speech. Amazing. With the President pitching, Republicans recoiling and Democrats dumping all over each other, this week's politics was served piping hot, but two out of three weren't swallowing. The campaign's just starting, and it seems people are already full.