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Sure, President Obama is the big Election Night winner and Republican challenger Mitt Romney — in his second, and we assume final, attempt to make it the White House — was the night’s loser. But wall-to-wall media coverage of a hotly contested presidential election also produced another list of champs and flops.
New York Times statistician gained a cult following for his on-point 2008 presidential election predictions, nailing 49 of 50 states, and while the world of columnists and cable news talkers pooh-poohed his work in this campaign, he looks likely to have correctly predicted the electoral college winner in all 50 states. As of Wednesday morning, Florida and Nevada had yet to declare the winner of their electoral votes, but the evidence points toward victories for Obama, just as Silver predicted. And if they indeed stay the course and declare for the president, it will give Silver sweet bragging rights — and a cool $2,000 — when he next speaks to the hosts and frequent opiners of cable news networks and opinion journals.
NBC News looks like it notched two wins last night. After being the first network to call the presidential race in favor of incumbent Barack Obama, it also has an advantage in the ratings. Fast affiliate returns for Tuesday’s primetime block of election coverage gives NBC a 4.6 rating among adults 18-49 and 12.56 million viewers — topping its final ratings from four years ago.
FNC scored an easy win in primetime with 11.45 million viewers between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, pushing the network to its most-watched block ever. It was the only network of the three to grow in that time period from 2008, besting CNN (9.25 million viewers) and MSNBC (4.67 million viewers). FNC had the highest peak viewership as well, averaging 11.8 million between 10 and 11 p.m. The network did come in just shy of CNN in the coveted adults 25-54, though. CNN won that group with 4.57 million viewers, edging past FNC’s 4.45 million. MSNBC pulled in 1.99 million in the demo.
The Fox News contributor and Republican strategist questioned Fox News analysts’ projection awarding critical swing state Ohio to Obama. Rove — who helped manage the conservative super PAC Crossroads GPS, which spent millions of dollars on TV advertising for Romney and other Republicans — said the decision to call Ohio for Obama with 74 percent of the vote in was “premature,” thus forcing anchor Megyn Kelly to get up from the anchor desk and walk down the hall to “decision desk” headquarters and question Fox News Channel’s own experts.
It seems impossible that The Apprentice star and relentless self-promoter could earn more derision than he did with his hoary $5 million offer for Obama’s college transcripts and passport application — an announcement he coyly teased as a “bombshell” that would alter the course of the election. But his erroneous, illogical and grammatically challenged Election Night twitter rant (“This election is a sham and a travesty”; “The phoney [sic] electoral college made a laughing stock of our nation. The loser one [sic]!”) made him the laughingstock.
Viewers took notice of Diane Sawyer’s coverage of the presidential election on ABC News, but not necessarily in the way the veteran journalist intended. Throughout the marathon night of coverage, Sawyer lapsed into giggles and her speech seemed slurred. The Twitterverse erupted, wondering if Sawyer was drunk or had taken a muscle relaxer, and her name became a trending topic on Tuesday night, inspiring the hash tag #DrunkDianeSawyer. ABC News sources chalked it up to exhaustion. And Sawyer herself seemed to take the reaction in stride when she tweeted Tuesday night: “Read your tweets, good, bad and the funny.”
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