The Boston Globe’s Joanna Weiss writes about Super Tuesday…
It was an election night with as many moving parts as there were moving graphics on a Fox News Channel screen. Indeed, the best metaphor for Super Tuesday coverage last night was probably that Fox ticker, filled with so many measures of counting - raw totals, percentages, delegate counts - that it threatened to overtake the screen and cover the analysts’ heads.
That would have been rough, given how many commentators got airtime during the marathon coverage - otherwise known as The Long Wait for California Returns to Finally Arrive. Analysts on the varied networks ranged from jaded veterans of campaigns past to a flurry of African-American voices to the usual crew of columnist types. (At one point, Bill Bennett made a crack about being on CNN’s second-string panel.)
As does the New York Times’ Allessandra Stanley…
Perhaps the least circumspect commentator was Karl Rove, making his debut as a Fox News contributor, and he did not hedge much at all. Soon after the polls closed in Georgia, Mr. Rove made note of the large numbers of whites who had voted for Mr. Obama. “Georgia is not that different from other states,” he told the anchor, Brit Hume. “If white Democrats vote for Obama in Georgia, then white voters across America are voting for Obama.”
It was one of the most complicated nights in election history — so many states, so many ways to parse the voting patterns and so many different ways the delegates are divvied up — and all the more reason to keep the presentation simple. But numbers do not add up to a television tableau. All the networks tried to jazz up their newscasts with technology: a virtual map on NBC that looked as if it was hanging in space like a Magritte bowler hat, a neon-colored set on Fox News that looked like the Las Vegas Strip, a touch-screen map on CNN (Norad with a hint of lava lamp).
And the San Jose Mercury News’ Charlie McCollum…
Chuck Todd, the political director for NBC and MSNBC, spent most of the time running a “Super Tuesday for Dummies” class, patiently explaining the delegate splits in various states. Hillary Clinton could win Tennessee with 56 percent of the vote, but - Todd pointed out - she’d get only 38 delegates, compared to 30 for Obama.
On Fox News, numbers guru Michael Barone spent a lengthy segment with anchor Brit Hume explaining once again how the cable channel calls races, what the exit polls means and how delegates are split.
And the New York Daily News’ David Hinckley…
Last night’s TV coverage of Super Tuesday was a little like anchovy pizza: There’s a core audience that can never get enough - but if you don’t also offer the basics, a lot of your customers leave hungry.
And the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik…
Among the worst moments on all three cable channels were those in the earlier part of the evening when grandstanding anchors Lou Dobbs (CNN) and Bill O’Reilly (Fox) injected themselves and their politics into the proceedings rather than moving from one source of information to another as Wolf Blitzer (CNN), Anderson Cooper (CNN) and Brian Williams (NBC) did so well.
The adolescent chortling between Dobbs and CNN political analyst Bill Bennett over GOP candidate John McCain’s position on immigration and the mainstream media’s coverage of it was in stark contrast with the journalistic integrity with which analysts Gloria Borger and Jeffrey Toobin carried themselves throughout the night on CNN.
While Bennett cheapened the proceedings almost every time he opened his mouth last night on CNN, former Bush adviser Karl Rove brought a genuine feel of inside knowledge - without any hot-dog rhetoric - to his new job as analyst on Fox.
And the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz…
Huckabee’s star shined brighter when MSNBC called him the winner in Georgia. He was racking up wins in the South despite getting just a fraction of the coverage lavished on the McCain-Romney spitball fight in recent weeks.
“The Republican race is now a three-man race,” Lou Dobbs announced on CNN, although few other analysts were touting Huckabee as a threat to win the nomination.
Romney managed to take Minnesota, according to a CNN projection at 11:10. But there was a growing feeling that Romney had been “really neutralized, really harmed,” as Barnes put it on Fox. Meaning that McCain had done far better than the networks had been saying for hours.
Finally, at 12:15 a.m., MSNBC and Fox called California for Hillary, and MSNBC awarded it (and Missouri) to McCain. The tenor of the coverage began to change, but half the country was asleep.