Playing it smart by staying home for today's presidential inauguration? Find a comfy chair, pop open your favorite beverage and bask in TV's warming glow. The broadcast, cable and local networks have you covered.
Brian Williams anchors his first inauguration as top dog at NBC (Channel 4) beginning at 10 a.m. He'll be joined by "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert, who may bring along his little white board. Local NBC station WRC will cut into network coverage about 2 p.m. with anchors Jim Vance and Doreen Gentzler on parade duty right up until the station's 4 p.m. newscast.
Williams takes the reins from Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather anchors his last inauguration for CBS (Channel 9), with network coverage beginning at 10 a.m. Joining Rather in the anchor booth will be "Face the Nation" moderator Bob Schieffer and presidential historian Joseph Ellis. CBS signs off at 3 p.m., but WUSA newbies Todd McDermott and Tracey Neale pick up the slack, anchoring local coverage until the station's 5 p.m. news.
At ABC (Channel 7), Peter Jennings anchors six hours of inaugural festivities with assistance from Barbara Walters and "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos. Look for Ted Koppel on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. to recap the day with a peek into some of the inaugural balls. ABC boasts that it is the only network to broadcast the inauguration in HDTV. Washington ABC affiliate WJLA will defer to the network for most of the day except for a half-hour at 1 p.m. when Leon Harris and Gordon Peterson provide a local perspective. WJLA's sister cable station NewsChannel 8 goes all local, all day.
Washington Fox station WTTG (Channel 5), which has no broadcast network news shop to rely on, goes it alone today with all-day coverage beginning at 10 a.m. Brian Bolter and Shawn Yancy will handle the action for most of the day and will be joined by Lark McCarthy and Michael Gargiulo in the field.
PBS (Channel 22 and 26) provides two hours of coverage beginning at 11 a.m., with Jim Lehrer anchoring.
The broadcasters will keep their coverage restricted to the day, but the cable networks promise to cover the action well into the night while the inaugural balls are rocking. Chris Matthews will be the face of MSNBC throughout the day, while correspondents Ron Reagan and David Schuster are covering the Texas Wyoming and the Commander-in-Chief Balls, respectively.
On Fox News Channel, Chris Wallace takes care of the pre-inauguration activities with Brit Hume at bat to anchor the inauguration ceremony. Later that night, Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes will anchor their show from the Texas Wyoming Ball and Greta Van Susteren hits the Democracy Ball. Wolf Blitzer leads the CNN gang with assistance from Jeff Greenfield and Paula Zahn. In the evening Anderson Cooper and Zahn co-anchor live from the Freedom Ball at Union Station.
C-SPAN offers its trademark, commentary-free coverage all day starting at 8 a.m. and will cover seven balls throughout the night. Plus, it'll take phone calls from viewers throughout the day on both sides of the aisle.