Friday, November 09, 2012

Election Night TV

I don't normally talk politics here but watching the returns on each of the major networks on election night made for pretty good TV.

The most compelling, however, was when the networks called Ohio for Obama because then we knew Obama's win was assured.

What I found interesting, at that moment, was the way in which FOX News and CNN handled the call. From my perspective CNN was much better, more sophisticated and succinct. But FOX had better drama even though with regards to technology they still seem like they are locked in the 1980's.

What does CNN have? A beautiful interactive map, which John King would use to bring us informative visuals. He could zoom in on a state and drill down to each county and show the number of votes and percentages reported. This was the exact method King used to show us why CNN called Ohio when only about 65% of the vote had been counted. To the point, all the Republican counties were counted at close to 100% and the only areas on the map left fully uncounted were Democratic areas.

FOX News, on the other hand, did not have an interactive map. They had talking heads and graphics that only showed states and overall numbers. When Ohio was called they had no way of showing us why it was called. So that lead to a good bit of off-the-cuff live television that began with the now famous meltdown, rant by skeptical Karl Rove. So what did FOX do? In order to get answers they sent co-anchor Megyn Kelly into the basement [!] to get facts. Here it is.

Yes, rather than have the decision desk be right there in the studio they have it located downstairs nowhere near any cameras. The fact that FOX News has such an antiquated system is a bit unbelievable considering that they are hardly some small time network. They are usual #1 in ratings and owned by one of the wealthiest men in the world. 

I should note that an article in New York Magazine claims that an insider at FOX said the call to send Kelly walking downstairs was a good one because it gave them an opportunity to show the audience her legs. Yes, they sent a woman to do the work so audiences could look at her legs. What can I say? Good television and bad television in part because it is so old fashioned and out-of-date. But then again their core audience is predominately older, conservative and white.

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