One of the jobs I do as a punditry critic is to check out the talking heads on TV after a major speech, debate, primary or whatever the hot event is that the networks all are covering. I sometimes like that more than the actual event. Anyway, what I noticed immediately after the debate was that Brit Hume was very disappointed there were no "sound bytes" to cover. He seemed a little bored. No glaring gaffes by McCain or Obama that they could then play endless loops about and reduce a very important event down to its lowest common denominator.
His all-star panel all felt the same. Fred Barnes, Nina Easton, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams all agreed. I saw the same on the other networks as well. As I checked around that sentiment seemed to carry over in the print world.
Obama will benefit from having the better sound bite of the night. Cable-news producers didn't have many to choose from for the endless analysis of the debate, but one clip they'll show will certainly be Obama's criticism of McCain on Iraq.
Now on substance, John Dickerson is correct. (one example) Obama was able to highlight a strength of his during the debate, but it really wasn't the kind of "sound byte' cable was looking for. They wanted a major league flub, or even better---a heated exchange between the two that had them glaring at each other and having to be separated by Jim Lehrer.
Here's MoDo: Sound, but No Fury
Have they been watching Obama all these many months? He doesn't operate like that. Would I love to see him attack more forcefully? Yes I would, but I won't be surprised if he never does...
Can't they just cover the event as it happens and report on it?