The PJ Tatler

Peek inside the network news manual for candidate's wives

There must be two different sections in the guidelines used by the networks for reporting on the wives of Presidential candidates.  Michael Isakoff at NBC News delivers this blistering story on Newt Gingrich’s wife Callista.  The story mentions her hair, her dastardly role in scheduling and relies on a New York Times reporter for a source.  Newt demanded an apology from NBC over the story.  The NBC story even slips in the term “third” wife for good measure.  A nickel for every time NBC called Teresa Heinz John Kerry’s “second” wife.

Further back in the NBC News manual, you might find very different guidelines for handling news about candidate wives.  Not long ago, a candidate’s wife revealed that she was proud of her country for the first time in her lifetime.  How did NBC News handle this one?

After the wife spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, “NBC’s Chuck Todd decided ‘this is definitely a response in some ways to that whole kerfuffle that she created for herself, six or eight months ago, about being proud to be an American.’”  (h/t Newsbusters).  And the “kerfuffle” flickered out.

ABC appears to borrow from NBC’s manual.  ABC’s George Stephanopoulos after the wife’s Denver speech: “And a lot that was because of that comment she made during the course of this campaign where she said ‘the first time I was proud of my country’ was during this election.  Tonight, there was no doubt.  The money line in this speech was that line when she said, ‘that is why I love this country’ and she lingered.”

No doubt that the networks employ one approach for some wives, and a different approach for others.   No doubt, indeed.