And what's bigger than a Tom Ridge press conference plus Dick Gephardt's official declaration of candidacy? A dog trapped on an ice floe on the Passaic River in New Jersey, that's what.
CNN and Fox News cameras first discovered the poor Rottweiler about an hour ago, but like most midday TV news blater, stayed with it only briefly. A little while later, they put Dick Gephardt's conference on the screen -- even more briefly. Ratings straggler MSNBC might have as well, but I wasn't paying attention. (Not everybody can watch several different televisions at one time, but I guess I'm just lucky.)
Tom Ridge then got up to speak from Washington, and all three cable news nets -- including ratings straggler MSNBC -- fixed upon him standing in front of the URL for Ready.gov, a new Homeland Security website with ideas beyond "buy duct tape." better than duct tape) on the wall behind him.
Unfortunately for Ridge, a rescue attempt was simultaneously under way on the Passaic. All three channels went to split-screen, with Ridge occupying about 1/3 of the space alloted to the dog and its human rescuers. The dog wasn't terribly thrilled about its new company, and every time the boat drew closer, the dog hopped back a few feet. And then, they got ahold of the dog, albeit tentatively. Tug-of-war!
Fox was the first to dump Ridge and devote the entirety of their coverage to the dramatic events. CNN followed quickly. And MSNBC, as usual, followed.
As I finish typing this post, MSNBC has the exclusive footage of a Llano, California aqueduct rescue. Serious. Let's hear it for daytime cable news!
UPDATE! It's 7:38AM the next day, Thursday, and the CBS morning show has the dog on the air! It turns out that the pup is a 3-year-old Rottweiler mix, named by NJ officials Sparky. Word is Sparky will be on Good Morning America later today. God bless America.