- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2015

There is no escaping President Obama’s sixth State of the Union address on Tuesday. Despite a declining audience in recent years, the primetime speech will be carried live by virtually all broadcast and cable news networks, each touting their own style, talent and fancy technology. Most feature companion multi-platform coverage at their websites, through social media and in some cases, on radio and in Spanish. Most will also air the official Republican response from Rep. Joni Ernst which follows the main event, and most coverage gets underway at 8 p.m. ET. Mr. Obama’s speech begins an hour later.

Not everyone is interested, however. The address is losing its audience, dropping in recent years from 52 million in 2009 to 33 million viewers last year, according to Nielsen. The ever ready White House is poised to cater to elusive no-shows, offering “enhanced” versions of the address at its website and through social media, You Tube, email, mobile devices and other nontraditional formats. The goal, says White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer, is to make the speech available “wherever you want, whenever you want.”

C-SPAN offers the most unembellished coverage - with little emphasis on fancy graphics and other bells and whistles. The public affairs network leads off with analysis of the occasion by former House historian Ray Smock, followed by viewer reactions and commentary from lawmakers; the complete speech itself will be replayed at 11 p.m.

Fox News showcases bodacious coverage anchored by Bret Baier and augmented by commentary from George Will, Steve Hayes, Juan Williams and Nina Easton, along with live reports from White House and U.S. Capitol by Ed Henry and Mike Emanuel. Special editions of The O’Reilly Factor and The Kelly File will air at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. The Fox Business Network features anchor Neil Cavuto plus analysts Peter Barns and Rich Edson, to be followed by a live hour hosted by John Stossel. His guests include a host of lawmakers - among them Sen. Steve Daines, Montana Repubilcan, and Rep. Henry Cueller, Texas Democrat.

Meanwhile, FOX — the broadcast version - will also offer separate live coverage anchored by Shepard Smith, with commentary by Fox News Sunday moderator Chris Wallace.

The parade of names on CNN is lengthy. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Erin Burnett’s OutFront, followed by non-stop analysis anchored by Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper. News and commentary will be offered by Jim Acosta, Dana Bash, Gloria Borger, John King and Michael Smerconish. Spanish language programming from Juan Carlos Lopez will originate in Havana; the network will also feature the Republican response to the speech in Spanish.

Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews host MSNBC’s coverage, joined by such commentators and contributors as Chris Hayes, Al Sharpton, Kasie Hunt, Steve Kornacki, Steve Schmidt, Robert Gibbs, Michael Steele, Eugene Robinson and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto. Also on reporting detail: Andrea Mitchell, Ed Schultz and Luke Russert, with Jose Diaz-Balart contributing from Miami.

Bloomberg TV offers intensely political coverage anchored by Bloomberg Politics’s Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Also along for the night: Bloomberg View’s Al Hunt and political analysts including Carly Fiorina, Anita Dunn and John Sununu, plus correspondents Phil Mattingly, Peter Cook and Margaret Tale. On PBS, anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will be joined by columnists Mark Shields and David Brooks for thoughtful and fairly calm analysis.

The Big Three broadcast networks are also joining the fray, and trotting out top talent: CBS News features anchor Scott Pelley, joined by Bob Schieffer, Norah O’Donnell, Major Garrett, Nancy Cordes and John Dickerson. NBC News features anchor and managing editor Brian Williams, plus Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd, correspondents Andrea Mitchell, Chris Jansing, Joe Scarborough and Kristen Welker. And at ABC News, George Stephanopoulos anchors the coverage, joined by David Muir and a political team that includes Jonathan Karl, Martha Raddatz, Cokie Roberts, Matthew Dowd, Nicolle Wallace and Donna Brazile. A special Nightline recaps the address.

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