ANCHORS AWAY - SO LONG, CUBA
(LPP Archive) - Thursday, January 22th 1998, 2:03AM
The Clinton sex scandal sent all three major network anchors scrambling back Stateside yesterday, hours after Pope John Paul landed in Cuba for his historic visit.
CBS' Dan Rather and NBC's Tom Brokaw flew to Washington, where the explosive charges against President Clinton were leveled. ABC's Peter Jennings flew to his New York base.
Network spinmeisters tried to downplay their stars' departures.
"We just think it's the best place to cover both of these stories," said ABC News spokeswoman Eileen Murphy. "We consider these both to be extremely important stories."
ABC's Ted Koppel was the first to pull out of Havana yesterday. After one broadcast, he left Cuba to return to Washington to anchor ABC's "Nightline."
"The Pope going to Cuba is clearly a significant story. It just means you've got two big stories that couldn't be more diametrically opposite," said David Corvo, vice president of NBC News.
The anchors were scheduled to be in Cuba through the weekend.
ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and the Fox News Channel had invested heavily in covering the Pope's five-day trip devoting more than 100 people and hundreds of thousands of dollars to covering that story.
Until yesterday morning, the Pope's visit clearly was the week's big story.
The balance of news power shifted to Washington after Clinton spoke to PBS' Jim Lehrer, who previously had scheduled an interview at the White House about Tuesday's State of the Union address.
While PBS taped the interview, it was fed live to the White House press pool. ABC picked it up and was the first to break into regular programing to air it live.
The latest charges against the President also resulted in the Spice Girls being dumped from CNN's "Larry King Live" last night, in favor of Clinton adviser James Carville and Watergate journalist Bob Woodward.