Air Time Toppers: Andrea Mitchell Beats Out Jake Tapper in ’08

Encyclopedic TV News critic Andrew Tyndall recently published his annual year in review, in which, among other things, he totals up all the air time racked up over the past year by correspondents on the network evening newscasts.

This year’s big winner? Andrea Mitchell! 

According to Mr. Tyndall’s calculations, NBC’s Ms. Mitchell pulled off a lopsided victory (355 minutes) over the reigning 2007 champion, ABC’s Jake Tapper (330 minutes). CBS’ Dean Reynolds (who was a no-show in 2007’s top 20) rocketed up the charts with a strong showing in ’08, finishing third (262 minutes).

Last year, on the heels of Mr. Tapper’s upset victory, The New York Times‘ David Carr (who gave Mr. Tapper his first job in journalism, as a cub reporter at The Washington City Paper) had this to say about the relentless newshound: “If he worked for Tony Soprano, he’d be called an earner.”

So what to call Ms. Mitchell?

For the time being, we’ll settle for… Champion. Ms. Mitchell had quite a year in 2008, becoming a ubiquitous, must-see correspondent on the campaign trail, and breaking many big stories along the way (In November, to name just one example, she was the first to report that Hillary Clinton was “under consideration to be secretary of state.”)

What makes her 355 minutes all the more impressive is that throughout the election season, Ms. Mitchell also regularly anchored an hour of daytime television for MSNBC.

Long time observers of Mr. Tyndall’s “Most Used” list will be shocked to find that for perhaps the first time in modern history, NBC’s hungry-hungry newsman David Gregory failed to crack the top 20. He has no one to blame but himself. In early ’08, he decided to start anchoring the 6 p.m. hour on MSNBC, thus creating a timing conflict with the NBC Nightly News, and preventing him from gobbling up his usual jumbo share of broadcast minutes (we suppose he can console himself with having landed the most covetted job in TV journalism).

So can Ms. Mitchell repeat in ’09? We predict that Mr. Tapper, whom ABC News recently named as its Chief White House Correspondent, will push to reclaim the crown. We’ll also be keeping an eye on Chuck Todd whose dual role as NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent and its political director could translate into big numbers in the year ahead.

Air Time Toppers: Andrea Mitchell Beats Out Jake Tapper in ’08