An all night marathon, and no winner for President
For political junkies like me, Election Day is like the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and the Jerry Lewis telethon rolled into one — and this year’s coverage felt almost as long as all three combined. Here’s a viewer’s diary of more than 20 hours of electoral channel surfing.
1:05 p.m. A Fox News Channel anchor intones, ”And now more of our fair and balanced coverage.” If you’ve got to say that you’re providing ”fair and balanced coverage,” you probably aren’t.
2:30 p.m. MSNBC is already vamping to fill time. It’s covering two political reporters, Fredricka Whitfield and Fred Francis, who’ve driven from opposite ends of the country to meet in St. Louis. Do the ”Two Freds” really merit a full half hour of airtime?
3:20 p.m. California governor Gray Davis pulls a verbal boner on FNC, saying, ”We’ve got a very close erection.” Then he turns even grayer than usual.
4:30 p.m. CNN’s ”Showbiz Today” reveals that Jaclyn Smith and Kid Rock are for George W. Bush; Snoop Dogg and Cameron Diaz are for Al Gore; and Susan Sarandon and Camryn Manheim are for Ralph Nader. What are we supposed to do with this information?
7:06 p.m. CBS’ Dan Rather makes his first weird homespun remark of the night: ”The race in Florida is hot enough to peel housepaint.”
7:25 p.m. MSNBC’s Brian Williams attempts a Ratheresque weird homespun remark, proclaiming the presidential race ”as tight as a tick.” I’m not sure I want to know what that means.
7:59 p.m. CNN’s Larry King wraps up an interview with Bob Dole by saying, ”Thank you, Al.” Maybe his suspenders are cutting off the blood supply to his brain.
8:03 p.m. MSNBC uses a Vanna White like model to color various states red or blue for Bush or Gore. She seems to have trouble locating Michigan.
8:07 p.m. ABC newshound Sam Donaldson’s hair is scaring me. I think it just moved.
8:15 p.m. Rather strikes again: ”You can bet George W. Bush will be madder than a rained on rooster” if his brother, Florida governor Jeb Bush, can’t deliver the Sunshine State. He’s got a million of ’em.
9:00 p.m. As CNN declares Hillary Clinton the victor in the New York Senate race, cameras cut to a placid crowd at the First Lady’s rally. I guess they’re not watching CNN.
9:49 p.m. ABC’s Peter Jennings says Bush was convicted of ”drinking under the influence of alcohol.” Methinks Peter may be drinking under the influence of alcohol.
9:58 p.m. Oops! CNN moves Florida from the Gore column back to the too close to call category. The other networks soon follow suit.
10:00 p.m. Yay! Comedy Central’s ”The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” is on. My favorite line: ”Bush has taken his home state of Texas — no big surprise as the threat of executions is a very big motivator.” Stewart also correctly refers to commentator Bob Dole as ”Bob.”
10:34 p.m. Analyzing the results, Rather concludes: ”The word ‘goofy’ comes to mind.” As it does whenever Danno opens his mouth.
11:24 p.m. Breaking into MTV’s ”Real World,” correspondent Gideon Yago quotes ”my man Dan Rather” as saying the race is so close ”you can’t slip a cigarette paper in between these two candidates.” Hey, make up your own weird homespun remarks, buddy!
11:30 p.m. ”G-String Divas” is on HBO. I wonder if Bill Clinton is watching election coverage right now.
Midnight All the polls are closed — even in Alaska — and nobody’s willing to declare a winner yet. This could be a loooong night.
12:42 a.m. NBC runs a promo for tomorrow night’s — no, make that tonight’s — episode of ”The West Wing.” Smart move, but can it possibly measure up to this real life drama?
1:23 a.m. ”Capitol Gang” star Robert Novak says his ex CNN colleague and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan has posted an ”almost humiliating” vote total. Almost humiliating? What would be humiliating, negative numbers?
1:29 a.m. Rather commits a verbal faux pas, calling the Missouri Senate race between Republican incumbent John Ashcroft and deceased Democratic governor Mel Carnahan ”dead even.”
1:58 a.m. NBC and MSNBC (why are they doing separate broadcasts?) declare Carnahan the winner, breaking the, um, deadlock.
2:17 a.m. NBC and MSNBC declare Bush the winner; the other nets follow over the next few minutes. I’d love to stay up and watch the speeches, but I’m sure they’ll be on the news later.
8:00 a.m. I wake up and turn on NBC’s ”Today” show, only to find out that the election is now too close to call again. I guess I’ll be watching a lot more TV…
What were your favorite (and least favorite) Election Night TV moments?