After winning Monday night's Democratic Iowa caucuses, the televised climax of a prolonged media extravaganza, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) might have expected to become the political equivalent of Johnny Carson: a real star.

Instead, all the stardust has been sprinkled on Republican Pat Robertson, an erstwhile evangelical television talk show host who defeated the national Republican front-runner, Vice President Bush. Gephardt has had to settle for Ed McMahon status.

"What I'm watching for," said political scientist Nelson W. Polsby, "is to see whether Pat Robertson nominates {Massachusetts Gov.} Michael Dukakis by keeping Richard Gephardt from being sufficiently well-publicized so that he becomes the focal alternative to Dukakis in New Hampshire."

Robertson's second-place caucus surprise, and Bush's third-place setback -- characterized by CBS political correspondent Bob Schieffer Monday night as Bush's "nightmare of nightmares" -- have dominated this week's network coverage of the presidential race.

The coverage has given Robertson a huge media boost and Bush a media basting as the campaigning moves to New Hampshire. In pure television terms, according to several seasoned media watchers, Sen. Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) also was a second banana, even though he was Monday's biggest vote-getter.

For Gephardt, the failure to earn star billing from his victory in Iowa must be frustrating. "And if Gephardt doesn't get that bounce out of the Iowa coverage, he's going to have a tougher time competing in Super Tuesday," said Polsby, a University of California at Berkeley professor who studies the news media's impact on campaign momentum. "And he can blame it on all the coverage given to Robertson."

Robertson, declared anchorman Peter Jennings on ABC's caucus night special, was "the big story of the night," and was treated as such by ABC and the other two major networks. CBS's Dan Rather was moved to compare Robertson to Ronald Reagan. Adding to the drama, during a live interview with NBC's Tom Brokaw, Robertson accused Brokaw of "religious bigotry" for pointing out that he used to be a television evangelist. The morning after, Robertson continued to dominate the mix of interviews, although Dole, Gephardt and his two closest Democratic rivals, Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and Dukakis, were also represented.

Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), who finished fourth in Iowa among Republicans, was barely part of the show. His only invitation was to ABC's "Good Morning America."

Charles Black, Kemp's campaign manager, called the coverage "temporarily a little bit of a setback," and indeed Kemp, who received 11 percent of the caucus votes, was prominent in yesterday's network reports from New Hampshire, where he has been closing in on Dole in opinion polls.

"Basically," Black said, "the big news was Robertson and Bush and, to a lesser extent, Dole. Dole did what was expected. And Kemp did what was expected. But today he's got 30 reporters with him, including all three networks. They're treating him as a major player."

The vice president, after declining television interviews the night of his defeat and the day after, changed his strategy yesterday. He made the rounds, appearing live on NBC and three local stations serving the New Hampshire media market. But Boston's ABC affiliate, WCVB-TV, gave Bush the brushoff.

"We turned them down," WCVB news director Phil Balboni said. "I guess they were surprised because other people were probably jumping at it." Balboni said the turndown follows a longstanding station policy of not doing live interviews with presidential candidates. "For us, they don't serve much, if any, purpose. But for the candidates, live time on television is an opportunity to get your message across in a relatively unfettered manner. Do we need to say any more after the Dan Rather encounter?"

Bush made good use of his encounter last night with Brokaw, sidestepping questions about the Iran-contra affair and Attorney General Edwin Meese III to talk about his interests in such issues as education.

Among Democrats, former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt has received scant attention for his fifth-place showing, and former Colorado senator Gary Hart, who finished last, and Jesse L. Jackson have been virtually ignored.

"If I were in Jackson's campaign, I would be incensed about that," said political scientist Robert Craig of the University of New Hampshire. "If he were a woman, like {Rep.} Pat Schroeder {D-Colo.}, they wouldn't have ignored him like that. He got three times more votes than he got last time in Iowa. I think that was underplayed."

Like other Boston stations, the top-rated NBC affiliate, WBZ-TV, has been giving special attention to Dukakis' performance. The governor, political reporter Andy Hiller said on the air Tuesday, "returns to New Hampshire a survivor . . . . He hasn't conclusively proved yet that he's a candidate with national appeal. If he falters in the next seven days he may not get another chance."

But a WBZ-Boston Herald poll conducted Tuesday with 400 likely Democratic voters in New Hampshire and released on the air last night suggested that Dukakis has more than held his own in the wake of the caucus coverage, garnering 44 percent support compared with Gephardt's 17 and Simon's 13 percent.

Republican consultant Robert Goodman said coverage of the race is reminiscent of the 1984 Iowa caucuses.

"It was like deja vu," said Goodman, who worked for Bush in 1980 but is unaligned in the current race. "When Mondale got 46 percent of the vote and Hart got 15 and {Sen. John H.} Glenn 11, the big story was not {former vice president Walter F.} Mondale. You hardly even heard that he was the winner. The big story was that Glenn has had it."

In the television coverage of this year's caucuses, Goodman said, "there was some reference to Dole, but the big news was that Hart's dead and Bush has been embarrassed . . . and Kemp has a sprained thumb."