Brief civil war on Fox News after call for Obama shakes up laid back election night
It was nothing less than the Super Bowl of election coverage, featuring every major news outlet on the planet pulling out every resource to broadcast, tweet, post and publish as much data as possible on one of the most contentious elections in recent history.
But the real action didn’t emerge until late Tuesday night, when Fox News joined an avalanche of news outlets predicting President Obama would win Ohio only to discover a prominent objector.
Their own analyst, Karl Rove.
Rove, who directed many millions in advertising dollars to support Romney, disputed Fox News’ own elections number crunchers, bringing an awkward moment as anchor Megyn Kelley trotted down a long hallway to quiz their own analysts.
“In terms of public perception, it looks a little odd for us to be making a call,” Rove said, before another analyst, Michael Barone, explained on camera that there weren’t enough likely Romney votes left in the state, explaining the GOP loss to the channel’s conservative audience, as well.
Rove wasn’t the only conservative who had trouble accepting the call, first made by NBC News, that Obama had won Ohio and the election. Reality TV star Donald Trump railed on Twitter about a “sham” election, saying “we should have a revolution in this country.”
The odd civil war on Fox proved more exciting than live broadcasts from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and Stephen Colbert's Colbert Report, drawing a flood of comments on social media.
The rhetoric was a surprising turn from a mostly laid-back election night where news outlets moved slowly to call victories and there were few fireworks (beyond Fox News star Bill O’Reilly’s offensive outburst that “the white establishment is now the minority”. . . and “it’s not a traditional America anymore.”)
Another question answered decisively: New York Times polling analyst Nate Silver’s bold prediction of an Obama victory, which led him to offer $2,000 bet to critic and MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, proved his wonky method of crunching poll numbers works, trumping naysayers.
Social media proved a tremendous sharing space, where people traded information on problems at voting areas on Twitter, Reddit and other platforms. By 10:30 p.m., Twitter announced election-related tweets hit 20 million messages; the most-tweeted political event in history.
Some celebrities posted their filled-out ballots on Twitter — which is illegal in some states — prompting Fox News’ Sean Hannity to delete a tweet of his ballot with a sheepish apology.
Race proved an odd subtext on right-leaning Fox News, where analyst Mike Huckabee criticized Republicans for “a pathetic job on reaching out to people of color.” On liberal Current TV, former vice president and co-owner Al Gore alleged long lines were the result of attempts to stop voting that recalled “racist Jim Crow” tactics, and ABC turned to an anchor on Spanish-language Univision to talk about Hispanic issues.
But Rove's resistance seemed to cap a tough evening for Fox News fans, who were forced to ask tough questinos about the future of the Republican party at a time when they expected to be celebrating the president's defeat.