Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Notes from an Electing night of Television

I took Wednesday November 5 off work for two main reasons.
One of which I plan to write about later, but the other reason was due to the Presidential Election.
I didn't go to any parties, bars, rallies or "The Rally" last night. On purpose, I was by myself, with total control of the remote. I wanted to watch the gamut of the coverage, both last night and this morning. Also, if i had been at work today it would not have been a productive day. I would no doubt talk to other political conscious coworkers and "stealing time" by reading various accounts on the Internet.

I took notes throughout this process:



Yes, that's me - still in my pajamas shortly before noon.
Yes, those pajamas are in the design of the glorious flag of these United States of America.
They fit.

7 pm: Finally settle into my couch after day that began shortly after 6 am voting.
Which included a half hour wait in line (not bad)
Still got to work before 8.
Also booked quickly from my home to the barber shop.
The barber shop was needed due to the non-mentioned other reason for my day off.
My barber and I wondered how exit polls could be accurate with so much early voting nationwide.
More importantly, I got to see my parents around 6:30.
My mother was embedded into her MSNBC coverage.
She was planning on sleeping on the couch, to spare my father (not a fan of MSNBC) a night without the bedroom TV on all night.

I decide to pick up a deep dish Lou Malnatti's pizza up on my way home.
A very large step away from my 11 week long current diet, but I felt like celebrating.

Ok, now to the real notes (all times Central):
7:15 | MSNBC | Chris Matthews: "Liddy Dole may be the first to ever lose a Senate race by not talking enough."
7:29 | MTV | (some unknown kid to me with a foreign/english? accent) boasts MTV's "best coverage" before throwing it to an episode of The Hills.
7:43 | Univision | Best election night graphics in my opinion. Simple, clear, not bogged down at all.
7:45 | ESPN | Flipping on my way to another news channel when I catch Ron Artest (of my fantasy basketball team) steal a pass, yes!
7:48 | CNBC | They've got their screen split six-ways, with six nobodys in diffrent sets yelling all their opinions at once
7:50 | Fox News | Election night graphics looks like a Downtown Las Vegas Slot Machine
7:55 | NBC | Both the highest and lowest tech graphics of the night. They lock Ann Curry in a green room and superimpose video game quality graphics all round her. I'm sad they stopped just before making her "float" over the nation. Over at the ice rink in front of 30 rock they have the electoral map painted, filling in red and blue when projected. They proudly show pictures of production assistants gingerly walking over the ice trying to paint Wisconsin blue. Also, on the actual facade of 30 rock, are two window cleaning boxes - one red one blue - climbing to the top... Each dragging a red or blue banner, creating the largest bar graph of Electoral Votes projected.

Also, Chuck Todd looked awkward on NBC. This may be partly to blame on my LDTV, but his "interactive map" looked very far away, and he clearly is vastly under-experienced at working that map. CNN plays it like a classical instrument.

(I made a decision to avoid CNN this night. I get hypnotized by that map play. Zoom in, zoom out, county alpha compared with region beta, flip to the 2000 map, scroll to the 2004 map... someone prep the defibrillator paddles.)

8:10 | B.E.T. | The find of the night, in my opinion. Their election special "Be Heard" prompted me to text my friend about it's entertaining and informative quality. Yes, they had 21 year old panel member wearing an Obama / Biden t-shirt - but I welcomed that opinion. They had a token conservative on there too, along with a race-undefined woman that seemed straight out of the mental hospital. I didn't right down who the host was, I was too busy trying to avoid his constant name dropping from his days in Atlanta working for the N.A.A.C.P. This may not sound like a program endorsement, but it was unfiltered coverage. They didn't care that a vocal studio audience was showing it's bias.

It was tough to click away from this channel. In fact, I was watching B.E.T. when Ohio was called blue. And it was interpreted, correctly, as a "game over." Some on the panel recognized it was an election night faux pas to make such declarations when polling places were still open in the western states... But their manners could not stop their enthuasism.

(At this time I also received the first text message from a texter understanding the significance and finality of Ohio)

8:55 | MSNBC | I only catch the tail end of Luke Russert at a live remote from the campus of Indiana University. I wish I could've caught this, I don't know what he said. It makes me miss his Father. His white board would've had PA and OH on the left side by now, awaiting to write FL and IN to one side or the other.

(oh, i need to make sure I tape the fourth the last episode of The Shield, yet another regime that is limping to its end.)

9-9:30 | Comedy Central | Clearly these boys are better when they write and prepare - Improv is not their strength. Disappointed, I keep flipping.

9:45 | NBC | Brian Williams has a reoccurring "Brokaw Country" comedy bit going here. I heard it slightly mentioned earlier, and didn't think it was notable, but now it is. Whenever they talk about a state that Brokaw either has or had owned real estate (i.e. Montana, Nebraska) Williams uses it as a segue to get Brokaw's opinion. My biggest laugh of the night occurs later on this network:
Chuck Todd references Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" books when declaring Obama the first post-boomer president slightly then says, "But Tom doesn't want a book plug-" and Brokaw quickly says, "Oh no, go ahead" and the whole NBC crew unsuccessfully hides their laughter. Brian Williams then, before asking Brokaw's opinion casually mentions that his book is available in paperback. Later, Ann Curry (possibly upset she's been banished to a green dungeon) thanks, "our best selling author" before guiding us through more glitzy exit polls.

10 pm | ALL NETWORKS | Obama projected the 44th President of the United States

I'm amazed by how closely this resembles sports coverage. Specifically at the conclusion of a Super Bowl / NCAA Championship / World Series.
Nobody speaks.
Only crowd reaction.
Cheers and hugs.
Panning shots of the masses.
Zooming closeups of collapsed supporters.

10:10 | B.E.T. | I think these shots of Jesse Jackson are the most awkward of the night. I first saw him on B.E.T. a few minutes before his tears were visible. It was odd to see him not being paid any attention to at all. He wasn't even in the front row of the frame. It was odd for me to see him portrayed that way, but I think he was okay with it. Maybe that's what made me feel awkward. I was expecting him to try to get some spotlight for himself. Shame on me for having this bad opinion and assumption of him. The Jesse Jackson I was watching on television at this moment was not a former Presidential candidate or a famously historic activist. Maybe he was just an American. However, I know he is also the father of a U.S. Congressman - wouldn't he want to be with his son watching his results?

10:15 | Fox News | I'm not sure why I ended up here. Maybe I felt like rubbing it in a little watching this network now. Maybe I thought they wouldn't even declare Obama the winner? But their slot machine of a graphics scheme had hit the jackpot for Barrack. They bring up Karl Rove and I have to admit I liked what I heard.
Now I was told earlier that Rove predicted a landslide Obama victory. I dismissed this as a self-serving opinion. Both because he'd look stupid if he kept up the false facade of the McCain camp and because he wants to point out how a campaign that didn't involve him easily lost.
I didn't write anything down what Rove said, and this morning I'm a little bit upset at myself. All I wrote was "very refreshing in defeat."

McCain concession speech
During his speech I can't stop the thought of, "What if he was able to get his dream 8 years ago? What if he had Obama's money to contend with the W. Bush warchest of 2000?" Couldn't somebody have prepped the crowd to not "boo" Obama's name? It makes you look like jerks, makes your network of supporters look like a giant bag of douche. Seriously, are they completely without class? McCain says, "good will and honest effort to come together" in his speech. We all know that fell on deaf ears, sadly.
-Hey, Palin is there!
Just a quick widening of the frame, and she's on stage too - totally didn't see that.
Todd Palin looks like he's going to run back to Alaska and re-up his efforts on Alaska Independence.

If that's Romney standing next to McCain - McCain is thanking his supporters for their help... in victory.

Final Note: Tavis Smiley on both MSNBC and NBC
I don't really like Smiley's PBS show, but maybe I need to give it another shot now.
He had the best comment/theory of the night - speaking of the "dividend" that Obama has now. A surplus of support so to speak.

How will Obama take advantage of this surplus in America?


The last time we had such a surplus, it was in the aftermath of September 11.
A surplus many think was wasted.

What will he ask us to do?
Will anyone try to stop him? Could anyone?
Possibly the only person to stop him could be himself?
His own worst enemy if the office changes him to an extent we can not foresee?

But I don't think that's likely.
This president has something reminding him of future consequences that hasn't been in the White House for some time:
Two young daughters.
Hopefully these young daughters will be a constant reminder of what this nation needs to do for a better future.
I emphasized "young" because I realize W. Bush had daughters - but they were older (or at least drinking like they were).

I guess we'll all have to stay tuned.

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