John McCaslin

Cable news giant CNN is on cloud nine after making TV history during the Democratic National Convention.

"It was fun and historic. Now we are in Saint Paul, where it will be fun and historic, too," an upbeat CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer told Inside the Beltway over the weekend as his network prepares for this week's Republican National Convention.

More than 40 million people switched on their TV sets to watch Sen. Barack Obama's acceptance speech concluding the Democratic convention in Denver, which is more than double the number that watched Sen. John Kerry accept the nomination four years ago.

Now, for the first time ever, more viewers - 8.1 million - turned on CNN for a major news event rather than watching any of the so-called "big three" networks - NBC, CBS and ABC. The latter newscast attracted the second-highest number of viewers, 6.6 million.

As for CNN's cable competitors, Fox News Channel and MSNBC attracted 4.2 million and 4.1 million people respectively.


Speaking of TV news, Americans are led to believe that the war in Iraq - or more importantly how and when to bring it to a responsible conclusion - is one of the key issues in the 2008 race for the White House.

But you wouldn't know it by watching the U.S. TV networks, or so we read in the new September "Harper's Index."

Total minutes of network TV coverage devoted to the war in Iraq between January and June 2008: 300

Total during the same period last year: 1,229

Number of full-time correspondents that U.S. TV networks have posted in Afghanistan: 0


"I've sold only one McCain refrigerator magnet all day, despite having all this stuff - shirts, bumper stickers, you name it," the owner of Old Town Alexandria's patriotic AMERICA! store told this columnist Saturday afternoon, after a group of Canadian customers stopped in to purchase several Barack Obama campaign items.

The Canadians remarked that another business owner directly across King Street had told them minutes earlier that for personal reasons he refused to stock any merchandise bearing Mr. Obama's name.

Said one of the visitors: "When we told him that he was losing money, he replied, 'I don't need your money.' I couldn't believe it."


That's the Black Republican PAC purchasing two weeks' worth of TV advertisements entitled "History," criticizing Democratic Sen. Barack Obama for, among other things, voting in favor of increasing taxes on Americans earning slightly more than $30,000 annually.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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