CNN was the place to be on cable TV Wednesday night if you wanted context and perspective on President Barack Obama's prime-time address on how and when American troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan.
In the wake of the speech, anchor Wolf Blitzer and the CNN producers were whipping around the globe for reaction and context on the president's words from Nick Paton Walsh in Afghanistan and Nic Robertson in London. Candy Crowley, Gloria Borger, Chris Lawrence, Peter Bergen and David Gergen were offering coverage and analysis from the DC bureau, with Dana Bash on Capitol Hill and Brianna Keilar at the White House.
Beyond the impressive commitment of talent and resources in offering viewers a look at Obama's statement from several angles -- re-election politics, global power, war on terrorism -- what was most impressive was the serious, straightforward, thoughtful presentation of information that literally will mean life or death for some Americans.
Not that the other 24/7 news channels weren't engaged in the story Wednesday night -- in their own ways.
Current TV offered some immediate post-speech discussion. But by the end of the 8 o'clock hour, Keith Olbermann was back to his old ideological tribal warfare tricks -- calling Sarah Palin "half an idiot" and Rick Santorum a "moron." (Thank you so much, Mr, Gore, for bringing this measured and thoughtful voice back to our national discourse.)
MSNBC went with Lawrence O'Donnell and Rachel Maddow after the president's short speech. But by the end of the hour, O'Donnell was going after Palin, too, for abandoning her bus tour halfway through, just as she had her job as governor of Alaska, and then sending out a purposefully ambiguous tweet saying maybe she wasn't abandoning it.
Palin is worthy of criticism and contempt for her duplicity and narcississm -- no doubt about that. But that can be done without calling her "half an idiot" as Olbermann did or letting her be part of your focus in the hour after a speech like the one last night when citizens are searching for information, explanation and analysis about a story that could profoundly affect some of their lives and the lives of their children.
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