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This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Tues., Feb. 12)

Get used to 'em.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama began showing their spots Tuesday on D-FW's late night newscasts, where they'll likely be taking up residence all the way to Texas' possibly pivotal March 4th primary.

Obama so far is running the same 30-second health care ad on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. "To fix health care, we have to fix Washington," says he.

Clinton has two approaches. Running more often is an ad that touts her "lifetime of standing up for people." But you can't just "snap your fingers" and make the country's boo-boos go away, she emphasizes.

Her other 30-second commercial cites Clinton's long-time efforts to make universal health care a reality. "If you believe health care is America's moral obligation, join her," says a narrator.

Republicans John McCain and Mike Huckabee aren't buying it -- ad time that is. They've yet to gift D-FW stations with any campaign contributions, but it's still early.

All four stations paid attention to the presidential campaign Tuesday night. Frankly, they've already covered it just about as much as last year's spirited Dallas mayoral race, which went virtually ignored.

WFAA8 had a brief live report from El Paso, where Clinton kicked off her Texas campaign Tuesday night in hopes of carrying a top-heavy share of the city's Hispanic vote. The candidate got a "rock star welcome," said the correspondent, identified by WFAA8 anchor Gloria Campos as "Channel 8's" Angela Kocherga.

More accurately, she used to work for Ch. 8 as a producer and correspondent on the recently canceled La Vida. Kocherga now is a Mexico City bureau chief who primarily works for KHOU-TV in Houston, which like WFAA8 is owned by the Belo Corp. So it 's really not a giant deal, but Kocherga isn't a new hire by WFAA8 or anything.

The station also touted anchor John McCaa's interview with Obama. But on the 10 p.m. news, it was just a 10-second or so snippet from McCaa's earlier satellite talk with the candidate.

CBS11 sent reporter Jay Gormley to Tuesday night's Obama "Watch Party" at Gilley's in Dallas, where he billed Texas as "a key to the final outcome" of the still too-close-to-call Democratic presidential contest.

None of D-FW's four major TV news providers has a piece of the previously announced Feb. 21 debate in Austin between Obama and Clinton. It will be carried on CNN and Univision from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

And in other news . . .
NBC5's Newy Scruggs gets scant time for his weeknight, two-part sports segments, which are divided by a longer commercial break. But he's one-up on Mike "The Deuce" Doocy (above left), who lately is being dealt out of Fox4's 9 p.m. newscasts and replaced by a closing "Viewers' Voice" segment.

The veteran Fox4 sports anchor, who couldn't immediately be reached for comment Wednesday, wasn't a part of either Monday's or Tuesday's newscasts. He also got chop-blocked out of last week's "Super Tuesday"-loaded edition, which was understandable.

***Fox4's Shaun Rabb (above right) nabbed an exclusive interview with surviving Dallas firefighter Reginald Cuington, whose friend, fellow firefighter Charles Whitaker, was killed by a drive-by shooter last week outside an Arizona sports bar after they watched Super Bowl XLII.

His right leg still bandaged, Cuington said the shooter "let the window down real slow" before opening fire. He wore a "security guard hat" and was dressed all in black, said Cuington, who ran for his life after his partner was felled.

Rabb also asked about police allegations that the two had been busted for selling counterfeit NFL jerseys earlier in Super Bowl week. Two other men with Cuington and Whitaker at the time were charged with possession of marijuana. Rabb addressed that area, too, during Tuesday's on-air report, but his unedited interview with Cuington on Fox4's Web site gives a much more complete picture. Forgive Rabb for saying "Wow" three times during the course of it. He otherwise does ask the right questions.

As previously noted in this space, CBS11 reporter J.D. Miles had an exclusive interview with Whitaker's widow on Monday's 10 p.m. newscast.

***NBC5 whipped through 16 stories before the first commercial break, which actually is a slower pace than usual. The station basically hasn't changed its crime blotter approach, but isn't doing as many miracle diet or wrinkle-removing stories of late. On Tuesday, reporter Kristi Nelson's piece on "commuter back pain" actually turned out to be pretty useful.

***WFAA8's Craig Civale easily had the most in-depth report on the sudden closing of the 90-bed medical center in Lancaster. Rival stations basically blew it off with briefs, but Civale had a live dispatch and interviews with staffers who were "blindsided" by the shutdown.

***Fox4 reporter Brandon Todd was a night late to a story on Internet porn viewing at public libraries and new attempts to crack down on it. WFAA8's Brad Hawkins had that one on Monday night's 10 p.m. newscast.

Todd did, however, mention a previous study of the situation by The Dallas Morning News, which like WFAA8 is owned by Belo. Hawkins didn't do the synergistic Tango, and who can blame him.

WFAA8 management didn't appreciate it when the DMN recently failed to credit reporter David Schechter's investigation of fraudulent Hollywood memorabilia that ended up being sold by a prestigious Dallas auction house. The newspaper posted the story a day later on its Web site, but with no mention of WFAA8's efforts. A subsequent posting on the Dallas Observer's Unfair Park blog then credited the DMN with breaking the story. Which in fact it didn't.

***CBS11's Maria Arita, saddled with a silly "Butt-u-Tiful" cellulite-fighting story in the November sweeps, made a nice recovery with a balanced and informative piece on "Medical Tourism" to other countries with much lower costs for operations. Also on the health/medical beat, WFAA8's Janet St. James had viewers drinking in another of her supposedly therapeutic "Crazy Water" stories. And Fox4's John Hammarley detailed a "Body Balance" exercise regimen that enabled at least one woman to play tennis again after doctors said she couldn't after tearing her rotator cuff.

No one seems all that interested in finding a cure for chronic TV critic fatigue, brought on by full-immersion into late night D-FW newscasts during ratings sweeps periods. Only 11 more weeknights to go, though. Clunk.