John McCain showed up on time for his appearance on the David Letterman show Thursday night, after renting a helicopter to fly from Philadelphia to New York after weather grounded his campaign plane. It was his first appearance on CBS's Late Show since he canceled a Sept. 24 appearance at the last minute, telling Letterman he had to return to Washington because of the economic crisis, but then showed up for an interview with Katie Couric for the CBS Evening News instead. "Can you stay?" Letterman asked after McCain walked onstage and sat down. "Depends on how bad it gets," McCain replied. Letterman, as it turned out, asked McCain tougher questions than McCain has faced from most journalists in recent weeks. Although the Republican candidate has hammered his Democratic rival Barack Obama for associating with 1960s' radical William Ayers, Letterman asked McCain about his own association with right-wing radical G. Gordon Liddy, who was convicted in connection with the Watergate break-in. "He went to prison. He paid his debt," McCain responded.


Final viewer figures were tallied on Thursday for Wednesday's third presidential debate -- and the results showed that 56.52 million people tuned in to the debate on the three major networks, the Spanish-language networks, and the cable news networks, according to Nielsen Media Research. The two major cable news networks drew almost identical numbers. Fox News recorded 9.07 million; CNN, 8.93 million -- a statistically insignificant difference. In addition 3.2 million watched on PBS, which is not rated by Nielsen. The number was down from the 63.23 million who watched the second debate on October 7. The drop-off was attributed to the competing final game of the MLB National League Championship between the Dodgers and Phillies being carried by Fox, with Los Angeles and Philadelphia among the bottom-three markets tuning in to the debate. (Only Sacramento recorded fewer viewers.)


Senator Barack Obama says that Fox News Channel's coverage of him and his campaign has knocked two or three percentage points off his lead over John McCain. In an interview to appear in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, reported by Thursday, Obama remarks: "If I were watching Fox News, I wouldn't vote for me, right? Because the way I'm portrayed 24/7 is as a freak! I am the latte-sipping, New York Times-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal. Who wants somebody like that?" In response, Fox News exec John Moody said, "Senator Obama's comments about Fox News are misdirected. If he is uncomfortable with tough questions, it may be because he has faced so few from the news media. The McCain campaign also complains when we make them squirm. We will continue to do hard, honest reporting and let American viewers decide if we're being fair." He did not indicate which Fox News reports had received complaints from the McCain camp.


Denver authorities have dropped criminal trespass charges against ABC News producer Asa Eslocker, a member of Brian Ross's investigative team who was arrested during the Democratic National Convention while attempting to film senators leaving a meeting with political donors. ABC and Eslocker had insisted that they were stationed on a public sidewalk outside the Brown Palace hotel where the meeting was taking place. ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider issued a statement saying, "We are enormously gratified that the Denver city attorney has agreed to drop these outrageous charges." Eslocker said that he was "only doing my job, trying to cover an extremely important aspect of American politics." His attorneys, Daniel Recht and Steve Zanssberg, added: "The individual officers violated Mr. Eslocker's First Amendment rights, illegally ordered him away from the Brown Palace, wrongfully charged him with crimes and arrested him in a violent and thuggish manner." An ABC report on the matter did not indicate whether Eslocker intends to file a civil suit against the officers involved in the incident.


All four major TV networks have agreed to provide high-definition versions of many of their shows on Apple's iTunes store for downloading the day after they are broadcast. In a statement, Eddy Cue, head of Apple's Internet Services, said: "We've got an incredible Fall 2008 TV lineup with over 70 primetime comedies and dramas, including many of the most popular shows on TV in stunning HD." Apple charges $1.00 for standard-definition TV shows; $2.00 for HD.


Jack Narz, who at one time or another hosted eight different network game shows, died Wednesday in Los Angeles at age 85 from complications of two strokes. His brother Jim, himself a game-show host who went under the name Tom Kennedy, told the Associated Press that Jack "had a Dean Martin approach. ... He was smooth, on top, made it look effortless, and yet he was a pro. He came out so casually ... like 'I'm doing this off the top of my head.'" Among the shows that Narz hosted were Dotto (an early victim of the quiz-show scandals of the 1950s), I'll Bet, Now You See It, and Concentration."