Very early on election night, CNN commentator Van Jones predicted, “You could get seasick tonight.”
That is a rare evening accurate prediction, both medically and maritime. The night began with a wave of red Trump pouring over Florida’s shores, hit by a stream from the West that spurred Joseph R. Biden’s campaign, forming a vortex of chaos and uncertainty. The President jumped on deck late at night to rock the boat, and in the end, everyone could have been using Dramamine.
The problem is, TV network anchors already have predictions. We have heard for months about how the pandemic will upset the vote-counting patterns, a “red mirage”; can create the illusion that President Trump will bring nations early on. vote on the same day, that the president will undermine the democratic process, that election. nights can extend to the lengths commonly found in the Arctic Circle. Sure, the polls don’t call this an exact result – but 2016 told us the polls could be wrong.
But while knowing one thing that election night could be a pandemic, it’s another thing to experience it. In an election when context – not only the numbers but also the meaning of the numbers – matters more than ever, networks often struggle to tell audiences what they know, what they don’t know and what they know is they don’t.
For example, there was a question of how you would visually represent “leads” in states where, thanks to Covid, had an unprecedented number of early voting, counted at different times across states. different.
CNN has reminded of this in its coverage. But it also shows a map with the Democratic blue-highlighted states and Republican red to indicate even smaller leads, so at one point it shows up periodically. strangely South Carolina is blue and Virginia is red, although each state has been referred to on the opposite side of other stores.
Sometimes, responsibility loses excitement. At one point, Wolf Blitzer quoted “a little bit of surprise” when, with 8% of the vote, Mr. Biden led Kentucky, a state he wouldn’t have won on a scripted election night. by the most passionate writers. John King, pushing his magic wall to new limits in its abilities, goes on to call the night’s counters “fun”, telling an electoral district to be exactly one.
Channel followers may understand that different networks are reporting from different countries and not for ideological reasons. Fox News, which was operating this year from a different set of poll data to most competing networks, called the states earlier, sometimes by the hour.
Its most important decision was that its call, in critical time, of Arizona to Mr. Biden, had restarted the arc of the night. (Mr. Trump won the state in 2016.) Anchorer Chris Wallace compared it to a trading break in tennis, and it appears to have resulted in some broken pads during the Trump campaign, which Katie Fox’s Pavlich has reportedly been “tedious” when it comes to calling from the president’s favorite network (ever?).
Fox has been stuck between data and its conservative foundations before. In 2012, Megyn Kelly then shot down former George W. Bush assistant Karl Rove when he broadcasted Fox’s Ohio call to Barack Obama.
The network was stuck with its decision desk on Tuesday, but the way it has played out shows how the network has changed over the past 8 years in terms of the network’s need to improve its facilities and politicians. illuminate their phone. Many times, it has baked analysts off its decision table (an independent unit was formed to call races without pressure). When Chris Stirewalt, Fox’s political editor, mentioned that the network didn’t mention Ohio cautiously, anchor Bret Baier countered, “You weren’t careful, cautious, and serious. Arizona. ” (Baier then said he was joking. Ha ha?)
As midnight came and went, which became Friday hour, analysts of each network worked on touch screens to calculate how long it would take until any of us had a good night’s sleep. come back.
But clearly no decisive call is imminent, still a bit of foretold drama: what Donald Trump will say, and how will the networks report?
Mr. Trump, a long-standing flexible accounting fan, has telegraphed that he would discredit any means of voting and count votes that would not increase his profits. And while the president’s words in a controversial election are news, they are also weapons; news outlets foresaw that their organization could be used to spread the impression that a legitimate vote count for others would – in Mr Trump’s Orwellian parlance – “disqualify” his voters. that.
The President spoke at the White House, walls engulfed in flags and flat-screen TVs, the angry sequel to his surprise 2016 victory speech at a Manhattan hotel.
But when the tone of the 2016 report was staggeringly reassembled, this time the stores had four years of training on what to expect, dismissing the president in the comments as he said And after that. (“CBS News does not predict the winner of the presidential race”; on CNN, “Trump said he will go to the supreme court; it’s not clear why.”)
The night ended with calls for patience, as an election was covered with a night of confused but sober reporting preparing to enter the pundits of experts and revs. (By morning, Fox’s electoral team had handed everything to “Fox and Friends,” Brian Kilmeade warned that Mr. Biden could “get back” the election by tallying the remaining votes.)
So conclude – or not – the latest episode in a presidential series that has managed to consistently shock, but not as surprising.