Enduring a long night of anchor managementAh yes, we have arrived at Election Night — one of my very favorite TV shows. The people who get paid grotesque amounts of money to read a TelePrompTer are required for once to work more than their usual 30 minutes — sometimes even an entire night.
The coolest thing about nights like this isn't what's said during television election coverage so much as what isn't. Because anchors and reporters are duty-bound not to reveal much of anything until after the polls have closed in a given state, and in light of the fiasco that was Florida in the 2000 presidential election, nobody really wants to commit to much of anything for fear that it will come back to bite them in the credibility.
What with the incendiary nature of all-news cable's political coverage and the inexperienced kids who now occupy the election return anchor chairs at the three broadcast networks, this is destined to be a memorable night. I envision that it might go something like this:
Brian Williams: "Well, it's nearly 8 o'clock in the East, the only time zone that actually counts, and while they still have more than three hours to vote out West, we'll start calling the House and Senate races anyway. You tiny little voter bloc in the West, we just think you're all so cute." (Click)
Charles Gibson: "Once the clock strikes 8, we promise to release our ABC News estimate based on exit poll data that the Democrats will recapture the House and Senate, and that … well, oh, sorry, perhaps I've already said too much. What I meant to say is, it's just way too early to tell." (Click)
Katie Couric: "It's now 7:55 p.m. ET, close enough to tell you that I'm feeling confident it will be 8 o'clock very soon. And an hour after that, 9, then 10, and so on through the night." (Click)
Brit Hume: "We don't have to follow the same edict as the broadcast networks here at Fox News, which means I can note that if you're a Republican, please keep the faith and if you're a Democrat, there's no real need to go out and vote because it's in the bag and all of that so just relax." (Click)
Keith Olbermann: "If you vote Republican, you're a dimwit who despises America and supports a two-bit Commander in Thief and I hate you and get out of my sight right now you … er … uh, what I guess I'm really trying to say is, thanks for tuning in to MSNBC." (Click)
Gibson: "It's now 8 p.m. in the East, and ABC News early return numbers allow us to officially call the races in the House and Senate. What we're calling them, however, is likely to change throughout the evening. Right now, we'll call them 'exciting' and 'close,' though that could evolve into 'drab' and 'less close' later on." (Click)
Couric: "To paraphrase my CBS News predecessor Dan Rather, the big races for control of Congress are looking closer than conjoined twins at a Texas rodeo. Oh ha ha ha! I can't believe I said that! I think I need another latte from Starbucks, a new sponsor here at … " (Click)
Hume: "Honestly, registered Democrats, your vote doesn't count anyway. So if you haven't yet cast your ballot, prop up your feet and have a beer or two. What's the rush?" (Click)
Williams: "Our NBC News estimate is that for ratings purposes, we'll need to keep you in the dark about all of the voting results well into the wee hours." (Click)
Couric: "It's 8:07, and the voters have spoken. I know what they've said, though I'm not going to tell you. I'm really very sorry. But we need to be competitive with NBC."