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How the Media Is Covering the Iowa Caucus

GOP Debate Sioux City Iowa - H 2011
Scott Olson/Getty Images
GOP debate in Sioux City, Iowa

UPDATED: CNN, PBS and MSNBC are among the networks revving up for the Jan. 3 event.

The cable news networks are gearing up for election year coverage when 2012 rolls around. First up is the Iowa caucus.

CNN plans a week of coverage leading up to the Jan. 3 event, with chief political correspondent Candy Crowley anchoring and reporting from Iowa beginning Wednesday (Dec. 28). On New Year's Day, Crowley will broadcast State of the Union from Des Moines at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET.

The network kicks off "America's Choice 2012" with a primetime special Countdown to Iowa: Final 48 Hours with Wolf Blitzer live from the CNN Election Center at 8 p.m. on Jan. 1. A replay of the two-hour special is planned for 11 p.m. On Dec. 31, CNN -- which touts that it'll have more reporters on the ground than in past Republican primaries -- will air The Contenders 2012 series from 2-6 p.m. and the following day from 2-5 p.m. Anchored by Crowley, the telecasts are an effort to inform viewers of the GOP presidential candidates.

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On the night of the caucus, CNN will utilize its anchors, including Blitzer, Crowley, John King, Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett, from 7 p.m.-midnight from the Election Center and in Iowa. Political analyst Gloria Borger, senior political analyst David Gergen, poltiical contributors James Carville, Ari Fleishcer, Dana Loesch and Roland Martin will also participate. Host Piers Morgan will air a special edition of his primetime program Piers Morgan Tonight at midnight.

“As the only cable news channel that has not chosen a side in this election, CNN will tap into the expertise of our anchors, reporters and analysts to equip viewers with information to decide for themselves about the candidates,” said Sam Feist, CNN senior vice president and Washington bureau chief. “In an election year where international events and the economy and jobs are of great concern to voters, CNN provides broader and more in-depth reporting than any other network.”

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MSNBC's Chris Matthews anchors Hardball from Iowa beginning Dec. 29, while network colleagues Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd will report from the state the next day (Dec. 30), the New York Times reports. Just one day before the caucus, Joe Scarborough's Morning Joe will be on location.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow leads coverage the evening of the Iowa caucus, with Matthews and the primetime hosts Ed Schultz, Lawrence O'Donnell and the Rev. Al Sharpton from 6 p.m.-midnight. Weekend host Chris Hayes anchors the midnight-1 a.m. hour.

Fox News Channel will roll out its Iowa caucus programming beginning Jan. 1 with the Chris Wallace-anchored program Fox News Sunday and like CNN, the network will also broadcast a preview that evening. Anchor Shepard Smith, along with Sean Hannity, will also be on hand in Iowa on Jan. 2. But on caucus night, Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly will serve as the lead anchors.

In addition to PBS Newshour's regular broadcast, which will include a preview of the caucus from reporters David Brooks and Mark Shields in Iowa and in-studio coverage from Rothenberg political report editor Stu Rothenberg and Newshour political editor Christina Bellantoni, the network will also air a 30-minute special after the caucus at 11 p.m. EST, featuring Judy Woodruff reporting from Iowa.

Current TV will air four hours of coverage on Jan. 3 from 7-11 p.m.

Broadcast networks will also be jumping in on the game, with CBS' Bob Schieffer serving as an anchor on the network's morning program The Early Show on the day of the caucus.

In a release sent Wednesday, CNN will launch its morning lineup on Jan. 3, with Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin at 5-7 a.m. and Soledad O'Brien taking the 7-9 p.m. hours.

CNN en Español will also provide coverage on the day of the Iowa caucus.

C-SPAN will also roll out coverage through Jan. 2 with the Republican presidential candidates and other 2012 campaign-related events. On caucus night, a preview program will air at 7 p.m. ET and with coverage of the caucus on C-SPAN and C-SPAN2. Following the caucus, there will be live program on C-SPAN with results, candidate speeches and viewer reaction.