Super Tuesday: News Networks React to Big Wins By Trump, Clinton
"This is a hostile takeover of the Republican party and they should have seen it coming," said Fox News' chief political anchor as results came pouring in with wins for Donald Trump.
Television news divisions have called early races in the Super Tuesday bonanza, entering the homestretch of a day on which nearly a dozen states headed to the polls to select Republican and Democratic candidates. And with Donald Trump taking Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Massachusetts and Virginia, much of the media coverage has focused once again on how a Trump candidacy would dismantle the Republican party.
“This is a hostile takeover of the Republican party and they should have seen it coming,” observed Bret Baier, Fox News' chief political anchor. The network then cut to chief political correspondent Carl Cameron, who was at Trump headquarters at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., (that state has its primary on March 15). Cameron noted the anticipation of a Trump press conference, not a victory speech. And he likened the room to the Palace of Versailles, “with the chandeliers and the gilt.”
Over on MSNBC, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd noted that by Wednesday morning Trump is “going to have the delegate lead by a lot.” Of course, the brokered convention narrative also was a popular talking point, as anchors waited for returns to come in. And Republican strategist and NBC News contributor Nicolle Wallace asked perhaps rhetorically: “Can you imagine trying to take this from him at the convention?”
Meanwhile, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton was busy racking up delegates in Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Alabama, while Bernie Sanders easily took his home state of Vermont. In fact, Sanders made his Vermont victory speech at 7:30 p.m. ET. CNN’s Jake Tapper noted that it was awfully early in the evening for a victory speech — to which his colleague Dana Bash pointed out that it would likely be Sanders only chance to make such a speech this evening.
All of the cable news channels are employing segmented screens with delegate count crawls on the bottom of the screen and various data boxes on the left, which had the effect of often relegating their anchors to the tiny corner on the right upper of the screen. Even during commercials, the crawl and the boxes continued.
Around 9:15 p.m. ET, when news networks began to project Oklahoma for Ted Cruz — which was something of a surprise, though Cruz easily won his home state of Texas — the narrative shifted to the battle between Cruz and Marco Rubio. Networks cut to Rubio making what sounded a lot like a victory speech in Miami, despite the fact that the first-term Florida senator has not won any primaries or caucuses.
CNN’s John King, crunching the numbers at his magic wall, noted that “Cruz will be able to make the case mathematically” that Rubio should get out of the race.
“Let’s be honest,” said Fox News’ Baier, after the network cut away from Rubio’s speech, “there could be a push by Cruz for Marco Rubio to leave to race,” to which his co-anchor Megyn Kelly replied, “I think we can expect that.”
As Cruz took the stage in Texas for his victory speech there — which was carried live and in it’s entirety on the cable news networks — Rubio was busy booking interviews on CBS and ABC, which, along with NBC, began live coverage at 10 p.m. He told CBS’ Charlie Rose that Trump is “a con artist. He will not win Florida. Donald Trump will not be the Republican nominee.”
After Cruz was done speaking, Rubio turned up on Fox News where Baier and Kelly pressed him on his disappointing night and on the polls in Florida, which show that Trump is well ahead of Rubio there.
“He’s beating you right now by 20 points in your home state,” said Baier.
Rubio answered that he doesn’t believe the polls. And he insisted “in many ways [Trump] is a creation of the media. But it’s the same media that’s going to tear him to shreds if he gets the nomination.”
March 1, 9:15 p.m. Updated with results coverage