Networks Stumble After Clinton

Hillary Clinton almost collapsed on Sunday during the memorial service for the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Her campaign attributed this to pneumonia.

All was captured on video.

Trump was uncharacteristically restrained, saying he hopes Clinton “gets well.”


Instead, the networks generated the discussion. All three made it their top story the next day.

NBC, however, used the footage differently from the other two.

Here’s the breakdown of how each network used the video on 9/12.

ABC used the footage only three times – an accent piece.

  • Once at the top of the show
  • Once during a story
  • Once during a segment with a doctor discussing Clinton’s health

CBS showed the video four times:

  • Twice in a story
  • Once during a segment with a doctor
  • Once during a Charlie rose interview with Bill Clinton

NBC, however, used the clip eight times:

  • Three times on loop at the top of the show
  • Five times during the story (three loops at the beginning, and two loops in the middle)


NBC and CBS both highlighted Clinton with a circle in the video, while ABC did not.

NBC graphic

NBC took it a step further by zooming in on two separate parts of the video.

Her upper body…


NBC Graphic

And her legs to emphasize the stumbling.


NBC Graphic

NBC’s use of loops – playing the video back-to-back – and showing the video more than the other two networks, made it the outlier that evening. Their decision raises questions about appropriate use of the captured footage.

How many times should it be shown, and in what way? Do the loops help the audience understand what happened, or add unnecessary hype to the story?

According to Carol Marin, political editor for NBC Chicago and former 60 Minutes correspondent, the broadcast was “balanced and thoughtful.”

“It was all in the realm of reasonable,” said Marin. “She’s running for the President of the United States, her health is going to be a critical part of the discussion.”

Video is powerful. It is always possible to do too much or too little. Perhaps this is why the networks couldn’t agree on the right mix.

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