Written by: Patrick Kelly, CC2K TV Editor
I decided to write an account of the 2008 presidential election coverage—mostly because the coverage is bound to be hilarious and partly because I (modestly) think it would be somewhat interesting to look back on in a couple years. This is not a commentary on the election or a commentary on the politics surrounding the presidential election; this is purely a commentary on the commentary, a description of the coverage of the 2008 Presidential (and congressional) election.
7:17 PM EST- CNN debuts the fucking hologram!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes!!!!!!!! The hologram—we’ve been waiting for this for like 24 years!!! Some lady appears in the CNN studio, from Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois as an effin hologram. The only thing that ruins this groundbreaking technological moment is Wolf Blitzer’s immediate insistence that this moment is, indeed, a groundbreaking technological moment. That, and the fact that he references Star Wars and Princess Leia like 8 times. The hologram!!!!
7:55- CNN – As advertised (and satirized), CNN is displaying an interactive board where an analyst can mold the images on the board to his liking. He/she can zoom in on individual states, counties, cities, villages and, breathtakingly, individual houses to highlight the polling numbers that are flowing in. A man with nice hair and excellent electronic board skills makes the thing looks like it’s worth the money, expertly comparing the results from rural counties in Indiana from 2004 and from today. It’s extremely effective in showing the details of how the vote is going to turn. Obama is pulling rural votes in places where the strategists didn’t think he would.
7:57- CNN- When CNN decides that they are ready to declare their projection, it feels exactly like a lottery pick is being chosen in an NBA draft. You know someone is going to be drafted, but you don’t know who it is. Is it Connecticut, the given? Or Virginia, the battleground state? Either way, the music is way too intense and it makes me realize that I have no idea why CNN feels like they had to dramatize the moment.
8:01- CNN – Wolf Blitzer, the CNN “host”, makes the comment that they do not have enough information to project the winner in 6 states. All 6 states poll’s that he is referring to closed at 8:00. 1 minute ago. This fact should go unsaid: We do not have the ability to count large numbers of things as a collection of people that effectively. We are just not that efficient. Therefore, this is not news.
8:25- Local NBC – Brian Moran, the Representative from where I live, Alexandria, VA, says that they “are going to party like it’s 1964”—a reference to the last time a Democratic presidential candidate carried the state of Virginia. It was a really bad joke. It would have been better if he had carried through with what it looked like he wanted to do: the fistpump.
8:51- CNN – For the 80th time (approximate), Anderson Cooper walks from one desk, where 5 squawking analysts are sitting, to another desk further back in the studio, where four more analysts are sitting patiently (too patiently). There would be absolutely no point in pointing this out if it weren't for the fact that Anderson walked away in the middle of one of the analyst’s sentences. Classic host-moderator move. He didn’t even notify the woman; he just flatly and calmly walked away. Once again, the camera directions trump politeness.
9:03- CNN – This is the third time now that I have seen one of the election analysts on CNN not be able to figure out how to work one of the electronic boards and, then, worrying about their future in broadcasting, immediately claim that it doesn’t work. I’m not sure whether this is due to their technological incompetence or a technological malfunction with the board. Either way, it is really funny watching panic creep across the affected analysts’ faces; they look like they are going to shit themselves or that they have shit themselves already. Every time, however, they are saved by a camera change or an apparent computer board fix. We still have a couple of hours.
9:25- CNN – Wolf Blitzer claims, “When we come back from break we could have a major prediction.” This is the first time I have generally been excited for a future segment. It’s no longer, “Watch us talk about what could happen.” This is real. Even if it is a prediction based on information that is only an hour or two old. It might not be a completely accurate account of how the vote is turning out, but considering that one of the networks wouldn’t dare call a state unless they weren’t positively sure (confirmation of the consequences of the coverage of the 2000 election), I am somewhat trusting. If one of the battleground states— Ohio, Florida, Virginia— falls to Obama, it could be a dagger to John McCain.
9:30- CNN calls nothing. We turn it to NBC. NBC calls Ohio. If this holds, and the northwest goes as suspected, Obama will have enough electoral votes to win the Presidency. CNN held off and they look like fools.
9:40- An Abraham Lincoln reference on CNN. Proof that CNN= Politics.
10:08- There has been a lull for a while. It seems as if everyone on each station, regardless of if they are an unpartisan analyst, republican strategist or democratic strategist, has chosen this time to reflect on what the numbers mean so far. What the numbers apparently mean so far: The Republican Party is willing to concede that the race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman for a Senate seat in Minnesota is close. This is crazy. This concession, though seemingly unimportant, is unbelievable—- Not only do they have to recognize that Al Franken exists, they have to recognize that he has a chance to win.
10:37- CNN – Campbell Brown assures that the CNN “Awesome Sweet Ass 3D Capitol Building graphic” is indeed awesome. I still can’t figure out why. It’s just a slightly more 2D model than the screen that they’ve been pressing for the last 2 hours.
10:44- NBC – Michael Beschloss, a Presidential historian, has the best/worst fake/real tan of all time. I can’t figure out if he spent the last two years on a Florida beach or if he was in a tanning booth for the 30 minutes preceding his appearance on NBC. He looks ridiculous next to scholarly books.
10:45- I finish my bottle of wine.
10:47- CNN – The hologram again! And a celebrity— Will.I.Am of Black Eyed Peas fame! And, yes! another hologram pop culture reference, this time being Star Trek. This awesome appearance is topped when Will does a little mini hologram-breakdance. As if that wasn’t enough of a gem, Anderson Cooper assures us there are more hologram appearances. Priceless.
11:00- NBC calls Barack Obama the next President of the United States. Brian Williams is eloquent and thoughtful as he announces and watches the crowd in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois: “We’re still here, we’re just watching it with you.”
11:08- Every station that is covering the election is predicting that Barack Obama is the winner. CNN. PBS. Fox News. Obama, despite the fact that California’s polls closed just eight minutes ago, is declared the winner by every major station. I may be skeptical of these “predictions” but all those experts are so sure, I defer.
11:15- NBC reports that McCain called Sen. Obama and conceded.