November 03, 2004

Here's the Llamabutcher contest of the morning:

Which of the three major dinosaur networks did its last election night news division coverage last night?

I'm serious: I have a strong gut hunch that at least one of the three legacy networks---CBS, ABC, and NBC---will jettison its news division sometime in the next four years.

My bet? That was the swan-song for the CBS Evening News.

Ace has transcriptual fun, but I came late to the game, only tuning in CBS after 1 AM. And what a good guess it was. Rather was apoplectic, full of bile, snapping at people, making faces, barking commands, splitting infinitives.....I felt sorry for Leslie Stahl, sitting there. She kind of looked like the loyal yet pained adult daughter of an alcoholic stuck out in a table in the middle of the restaurant when Pappy starts going around the bend and yelling at the waiters. She had that wan smile, almost afraid to make eye contact with the other patrons or the cameras, facial expression saying "I know, he's a complete loon, but hey, he's my Dad.....I'm sorry he's ruining your dinner." You've seen that look. Ed Bradley, usually debonair, looked plain old and beaten. I kind of expected Morley Safer to come rolling in like Captain Pike, "Morley, flash the light once if you think the Chimperor is trying to steal another election....."

But for all its pathos, the CBS production was topped by the extravaganza put on by NBC Nooz in its "Temple of Democracy." Really, it was more like the "Temple of Demo-crappy." Seriously, the whole theme park thing was surreal---the electoral map on the ice, I kept expecting to have Dorothy Hammill come skating in and do a flying lutz and take out the Midwest, while dressed in an old Soviet Air Force Uniform. And the electoral vote numbers done up the side of Rockefeller Center attached to window washing scaffolding? It was brilliant in a cheesy Hudsucker Proxy sort of way, but what made it absolutely brilliant for the ages was that they screwed the pooch: they called Ohio too early. Once it became clear that Kerry was going to wait it out (and how hard was that to figure?) they were in a bind---they'd spent millions of dollars in advertising that this time, they'd get it right, and guess what? They fucked it up again. Only this time, the evidence was five stories high, and would require a whole passel of Viagra jokes to explain away if they decided to "retract" the call. What to do? Ohio put Bush at 269. Then Bush gets up by a margin "too close to call" in Nevada (a real squeekah at 30,000 votes!), and Nevada's five EVs would put Bush over the top. And then NBC would have done it again: they would have declared George W. Bush president again while the Dems still had a play running on the field. Can't. Do. It. So what do they do? Pretend for hours that Nevada is too close to call, and try to pin the blame on Florida election officials. Fortunately, no one in the Bush clan has ever even been in Ohio, (although I'm sure Mikey Moore will produce pics of Prescott Bush playing golf with William Howard Taft, and we all know what types of conclusions can be drawn from THAT!!!!), and if you are going to have overtime in an American election, Ohio is one of the handful of states you want it in as the elections infrastructure is good.

So NBC antagonizes the Democrats and sets the far left into a frenzy (GE profits from the War! Halliburton! Halliburton!), while at the same time earning the emnity and wrath of the White House for denying Dubya his moment of being able to declare victory.


Which is a shame, because other than screwing the pooch on the biggest single call of the night, their coverage and analysis was quite good.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse harps on point that more amused me than bothered me last night: the speed and rapidity that states were called for Kerry compared with the snail's pace--oh, we need to be sure----what will our friends say about us if we make a mistake---approach to calling states for the Chimperor. Case in point last night was the West Coast, were they slapped those puppies blue like....well, I don't like where THAT metaphor is heading. But you get my drift. Call it already!

Posted by Steve at November 3, 2004 09:28 AM | TrackBack
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