Networks map out Ford coverage

Anchors will be on hand to cover Washington funeral

The major broadcast and cable news channels plan to televise Saturday's arrival of President Ford's casket at the Capitol Rotunda as well as Tuesday's memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington.

The announcements follow two days of conferring with the networks, the Ford family and the National Military District, which handles state funerals in Washington. An elaborate, six-day state funeral will be held for the 38th president, who died Tuesday night in California.

While the networks will cover many of the events on their morning and evening news programs and online, the two big events will come Saturday evening, when Ford's casket arrives from California to the Capitol Rotunda and, after days of lying in state, the Washington funeral. All the major network anchors will be on hand, including NBC's Brian Williams, ABC's Charles Gibson and CBS' Katie Couric, who will return from vacation Saturday. ABC also will have short coverage for the arrival of Ford's casket today in Palm Springs.

"The funeral of a former president is a state occasion," ABC News senior vp Bob Murphy said. "It's a public remembrance of a person who was the most important public official in the country. We have a sense of obligation as a news organization to cover it." Tuesday's coverage on ABC will start with "Good Morning America."

NBC and MSNBC said they would cover Saturday's events along with Tuesday's, beginning with "Today" with Matt Lauer in Washington, plus Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw. MSNBC will have more coverage, including Wednesday's services in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The cable news channels will have slightly more, with Fox News anchor Shepard Smith hosting the first round of ceremonies with mourners arriving at the Palm Springs church for today's afternoon memorial. Chris Wallace will anchor the Saturday coverage from Washington, and Brit Hume will cover the funeral and procession in Washington as well as Ford's funeral in Grand Rapids.

CNN will have a special edition of "The Situation Room" on Saturday afternoon and evening anchored by Wolf Blitzer and Jeff Greenfield. The pair also will anchor the coverage Tuesday, and the network will have the Michigan memorial service Wednesday. CNN Pipeline will have coverage throughout the weekend.

CNN Washington bureau chief David Bohrman said Thursday that there will be occasional live video on CNN of mourners filing past the former president's coffin, but it's not something that is going to be planned or any special programming around that Sunday or Monday.