Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Results clear, but coverage less so

A man is silhouetted against a television broadcasting CNN’s coverage of the midterm elections at an election-night rally in Washington, D.C.

Getty Images

A man is silhouetted against a television broadcasting CNN’s coverage of the midterm elections at an election-night rally in Washington, D.C.

Let's say you're an over-caffeinated, 24/7 media culture faced with covering a deluge of midterm elections whose outcomes have been predicted for weeks. What do you do?

Throw a lot of flashy technology and big-name pundits at the whole mess and hope it all works out.

That seemed the story of media coverage Tuesday, where many news outlets treated the midterm election results like the Super Bowl and World Series combined — though polls had predicted big losses for the Democrats and President Barack Obama long before voters cast their ballots.

"Voters are about to give the political pendulum in this country a good shove," noted NBC anchor Brian Williams. As advancing returns showed serious losses for Democrats, words grew bolder.

Daily Show host Jon Stewart featured clips of unrealistically optimistic Democratic politicians before results came in. "Democrats here are doubling down," said correspondent Aasif Mandvi. "Today Nancy Pelosi had her right hand removed and replaced with a gavel."

Here's a quick look at some of the highlights from media coverage Tuesday.

Shakiest use of technology: CNN's Election Matrix. Intended to allow a virtual representation of vote totals and exit polling, CNN's computerized set seemed to have quite a few bugs. The channel didn't even use the technology much until 9:30 p.m. or so, when anchor Ali Velshi had to jump around the set to avoid having his face blocked by graphics rising up from nowhere. Perhaps a little more rehearsal was in order?

Best team up: ABC News and Facebook. Creating an online home where users could watch an online-only report, a Town Hall meeting, see election-related Facebook messages and click through to other stories, ABC offered an easy way to surf through a mountain of reaction and punditry (and I'm not just saying that because PolitiFact editor Bill Adair was one of the experts).

Worst coverage decision: ABC News inviting Andrew Breitbart to their online town hall. Breitbart, the conservative blogger who got government employee Shirley Sherrod unjustly fired by releasing a video edited unfairly to make her look like a racist, was originally invited by ABC to its online-only town hall. When liberals and media critics objected, Breitbart insisted he was originally asked to be part of ABC's broadcast coverage, which the network said was an exaggeration, and disinvited him. Ironic and fitting all at once.

Best confrontation: MSNBC host Chris Matthews tried to grill GOP congresswoman Michele Bachmann on whether she would use her party's newfound power to investigate Democratic politicians, as she once said. "Are you hypnotized tonight?" Matthews eventually cracked, exasperated by her answers. "Because no matter what I ask, you give the same answer."

Quickest deflation of media hype: Christine O'Donnell. Delaware's tea party favorite was the most-covered candidate in the midterm elections, with about 160 stories centered on her, according to the Pew Research Center. But her race was called early Tuesday night, given polls showing her at a tremendous disadvantage in a Democratic-leaning state.

Results clear, but coverage less so 11/02/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Philippines forces make gains in city under siege by ISIS-linked militants

    MARAWI, Philippines — Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago.

  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile


    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.