TV News Scrambles Schedules in Wake of Mueller Report

Brian Steinberg

The “Mueller Report” has prompted a bevy of new reports from the nation’s big TV-news outlets.

CBS News plotted a Monday primetime special to cover the disclosure of a summary of the report prepared by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that had examined Russian influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election and probed whether President Donald Trump or his campaign had any ties to it, while ABC News brought “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir to deliver its Sunday evening newscast and Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN all reworked parts of their Sunday anchor duties to explore the matter more in depth.

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Fox News Channel assigned Shannon Bream, who usually anchors its late-night weekday news coverage, to two separate hours of coverage on Sunday, with Bret Baier and Jon Scott also taking Sunday-night duties — Baier normally anchors a weekday report. MSNBC assigned Ari Melber, its chief legal correspondent, to early-evening anchor duties for coverage of the matter, a time period typically devoted to a repeat of “Meet the Press.” Melber is also a regular weekday presence. Wolf Blitzer has anchored many hours of breaking-news coverage for CNN, though he does not normally appear on air Sunday.

The report, delivered to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Friday, raises new questions while answering others. According to a summary of the report released by Barr, the Special Counsel found that members of the Trump campaign did not conspire or coordinate with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 election, and made no conclusion as to whether Trump’s conduct during the investigation rose to the level of obstruction of justice.

All three broadcast networks broke into scheduled Sunday afternoon and evening programming to suss out the summary Barr delivered to Congress.

NBC News interrupted Sunday programming at 3:36 p.m. and stayed on the air with a special report until 3:52 p.m. ABC News started a special report at 3:42 p.m. to tell viewers of the Barr summary, and then again at 4:47 p.m. to analyze President Trump’s reaction to the early findings. “CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor broke into CBS’ coverage of the annual NCAA “March Madness” men’s basketball tournament at 6:30 p.m. to deliver a special report.

TV-news outlets started a new cycle on the report Friday, after word surfaced Mueller had turned in his findings to the Department of Justice. All three broadcast networks broke into programming with special reports. The news was deemed critical enough for MSNBC primetime hosts Lawrence O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow to cancel previously-scheduled days off and anchor their regular hours from Miami and Nashville, respectively.

Fox News used Saturday night to analyze the news as well, replacing an hour that had previously been devoted to a rebroadcast of one of its “Scandalous” documentaries for fresh, live programming anchored by Ed Henry, a chief national correspondent. The hour is typically reserved for “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” which was removed from the Fox News schedule in the wake of remarks the host made two weeks ago about a Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Jeanine Pirro, the host of that program, is widely expected to return to the schedule next weekend.

 

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