How the networks covered Biden’s first State of the Union

U.S. networks all carried President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address March 1, 2022, starting at 9 p.m. eastern across both their broadcast and streaming networks.

ABC News

ABC News kicked off its broadcast with an extended open featuring a blend of nat sound quotes and its  dramatic female announcer as select pull quotes appeared on screen in all caps.

Last year, ABC stayed in New York for coverage of Biden’s delayed address to Congress, likely to cut down on travel during the pandemic, which isn’t officially considered a SOTUS given that he was only in office a few months at the time. 

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However, 2022 say now “chief” anchor David Muir heading up coverage from the network’s recently renovated studios in D.C., which like Studio TV3 in New York, features plenty of LED video panels, walls, archways and ribbons.

This allowed the network to insert what appeared to be a live feed of the Capitol dome behind Muir, who sat in the the studio’s larger, curved anchor desk.

The LED panel on front sported the network’s SOTU logo while a rendition of the presidential seal was installed on the floor.

ABC also brought in a smaller, straight desk to house some additional analysts, presumably to help assist with social distancing, though the network frequently uses this type of arrangement during other special events.

The video wall camera right of home based featured a dramatic monochromatic image of the White House accented with angled red and blue elements that showed a faded image of the Capitol dome.

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ABC News’ key art and title card featured a dark blue background with an image of the Capitol, part of the presidential seal and a gradient workmark featuring the network’s distinct star icon in the negative space of the ‘A’ and ‘of the’ inside of a box flanked with stars. It also included a note about the Republican response in a red box below.

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CBS News

CBS News introduced an entirely new look for its SOTU coverage.

Part of the look used elements from the simplified version of the network’s new special report look blended with a bright and fresh red, white and blue look centered around various circular elements inspired by D.C. architecture and great seal.

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Since both elements can be depicted are circles, they fit in well with the network’s new circle-heavy motif that’s based largely on its “deconstructed eye” branding package that’s been rolling out over the past few years. Overall, however, the look did cut back a bit on the use of circular and curved elements with clean 3D or beveled effects in favor of a glassy rendition of the seal in the open and title card.

However, more of these elements were present the looping animations shown behind boxed layouts and on set video walls.

The network also added a skinny bar along the bottom of the screen with a “live” bug, CBS News logo and the SOTU label, along with an animated star loop rotating slowly and serving as both a separator and end cap design.

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The blue bar didn’t reach quite all the way across the screen and could also slide up the screen allow for one or two tiers of text in be added. 

CBS mostly refrained from inserting key quotes or current topics in its lower third banners, mainly using the to identify members of Congress and invited guests when the view cut away from Biden.

CBS and ABC were also the two primary networks that referenced the Republican response in their key art and title cards, even though all of the major U.S. networks carried it live.

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On its CBS News Streaming Network, Norah O’Donnell also anchored preview coverage ahead of taking network air.

During this broadcast, the blue bar could become wider to include a countdown element on the right side.

NBC News, MSNBC and NBC News Now

NBC, MSNBC and NBC News Now continued to evolved the basic look first developed for Biden’s inauguration coverage that was also used as a basis for his 2021 address as well as coverage since his first 100 days in office.

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That design uses a red white and blue color scheme with a distinct font for its logotype but a generic sans serif for animated typography in opens. There’s heavy use of rectangular elements, the presidential seal and stars, along with select microtext accents.

As is typical with NBC, there’s a branded banner that stretches the entire bottom of the screen that is designed to blend in with the lower third inserts and live bug.

On the NBC broadcast network, Lester Holt and Savannah Guthrie anchors from Studio N5 in NBC’s D.C. bureau, using the large video wall array behind them to showcase a live feed of the Capitol along with red and blue bars accented with the occasional yellow inserted on top.

The camera left and right walls, meanwhile, were entirely graphical and features the State of the Union wordmark, but they could have benefited from better positioning as they were frequently awkwardly cut off when the network cut to a one shot of Andrea Mitchel or Chuck Todd joining Guthrie and Holt at the oval anchor desk.

MSNBC originated from Studio 3A in new York.

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On streamer NBC News Now, Hallie Jackson, Kristen Welker and Chuck Todd took turns anchoring from Studio N1 on the first floor of the bureau in the space normally used for “Meet the Press” and “Hallie Jackson Now,” among other programming.

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Multiple areas of the space were used on Now, anchoring the arched video all alcoves, windows overlooking the newsroom as well as combining the two looks by using a video wall to simulate a view of the newsroom behind in studio analysts.

Jackson also used stood in the space and moved around more informally during her time on air.

All three NBC feeds shared a similar bug footprint and NBC updated its lower third banner as Biden switched topics throughout the name while also changing out names of key people shown on reaction shots, though it sometimes took a seemingly long time to pull the correct one up.

CNN

CNN mostly recycled its election look of red, white and blue blocked with angled accents as it produced coverage out of Washington.

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The network also incorporated significant Ukraine-Russia coverage throughout, including having Anderson Cooper joining coverage live from Ukraine to bring perspectives on both stories. Cooper and Jake Tapper were previously announced as co-anchors of SOTU coverage prior to the Ukraine crisis, so it’s likely he was slated to be in studio instead.

Tapper and Cooper have both been taking over more high profile anchoring duties from Wolf Blitzer, who was previously the network’s de facto lead anchor, helming most of its big coverage.

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Fox

Fox used its normal “Alert” open and featured Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier hosting from the network’s new D.C. bureau with the Capitol dome behind them bordered by vertical red and blue lines.

During the speech itself, Fox inserted a State of the Union branded sliver along the bottom of the screen but mostly refrained from inserting lower thirds or banners.

Telemundo

Spanish language Telemundo carried the event live with Spanish commentary and anchor intros as well as dubbed Spanish translation of Biden.

It used a similar look to last year as well, just with a different title given that it wasn’t official the State of the Union then.

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Univision

Fellow Spanish language network Univision borrowed an animated version of what is supposed to be Biden’s signature for its animated open, which billed coverage of “Estado de la Unión.” 

Notably, Telemundo used the title “El Estado del al Nación,” which roughly translates to “The State of the Nation” while Univision’s title could be considered a bit more direct translation of “State of the Union,” though translations may vary.

Other networks

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