by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & CNN vs. MSNBC & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & n this election season, not only do you have to decide between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but you've also got to pick which cable news network to stay glued to throughout any big election night. Hmm... tried-and-true CNN or upstart MSNBC?
Both networks share the duties, with Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper wandering the CNN set, while MSNBC opts for having Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews seated. Both Blitzer and Matthews can seem totally out to lunch, so it comes down to a Cooper and Olbermann face-off. I agree with Olbermann's angle on the news, but I don't like that I know he has an angle. He saw that door opened by FOX News and walked through it, but from the left. He also has a tendency to ask the never-ending question. Cooper, meanwhile, has actually been spotted doing real reporting from time to time -- even on 60 Minutes. Edge: CNN
This is where the battles are won and lost, down in the trenches where assorted bon mots compete for viewers' attention. MSNBC comes at you with, among others, cranky old-timer Pat Buchanan and token liberal Rachel Maddow from Air America. But CNN just has too much, with Jeffrey Toobin and David Gergen -- hall-of-famers who actually do make real sense of it all. CNN even has a row of backup pundits, in case Gergen needs a Gatorade break. Edge: CNN
Every once in a while, campaign coverage will jump over to an old familiar face -- a welcome one, in MSNBC's case, with former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw. On CNN, however, the switchover to suspendered Larry King, in a kind of show-within-a-show moment, seems like a mistake. Must be in King's contract that he can bust in on election night coverage. Edge: MSNBC
During the Texas primary coverage, MSNBC actually went live to a voting precinct where Lester Holt was interviewing a real, live voter. What a concept! Of course, they quickly got back to regular programming. Both networks have good reporters (John King and Candy Crowley for CNN and the slightly more polished duo of David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell for MSNBC), but if we're going to hear some new voices in this historic election, they need to use old methods -- like talking to voters. Edge: MSNBC
For once the slogan is accurate: CNN (despite Blitzer and King) does have the best political team on television.
The Capture of the Green River Killer
The Northwest is a magnet for serial killers, from Ted Bundy to Robert Lee Yates. The worst of them all was the Green River killer, and now we have a miniseries based on the book Chasing the Devil by Dave Reichert, one of the investigators and now a congressman. Starring Sharon Lawrence and Tom Cavanagh. (Sunday, 3/30, and Monday, 3/31, both shows at 5 pm, Lifetime Movie Network, Comcast Ch. 504)
Mariners Home Opener
At last we have hope again -- hope that the Mariners can compete for the AL West pennant. With ace free agent Erik Bedard on the mound and the Texas Rangers in the opposing dugout, this season should start out well. (Monday, 3/31, 4 pm, FSN)
The wait is over, Spokane, and you can finally see yourself on TV. Filmed last summer at the Convention Center, the episodes in which our region's attics were scrutinized and priced, for better or worse, are finally airing on PBS. This week is the first of three episodes created from their Spokane stopover -- watch for cameos from the Looff Carousel and the E.J. Roberts Mansion. (Monday, 3/31, 8 pm, PBS)