The "voting" bit of the endless 2008 election has not yet happened, but honestly the winner of that particular contest is of little concern to anyone but plumbers and unemployed auto workers and ladies who want their precious "abortions." No, from here, two weeks out from Election Day, with Obama suspending his campaign and John McCain abandoning swing states, we can already plainly see who's really come out on top over these last couple months. Media whores! And, you know, media people who we actually like and wouldn't therefore call "whores." After the jump, the five real winners of the 2008 elections.
1. Arianna Huffington: Her magical celebrity safe space blog site went from a punchline to a serious force in election coverage, thanks in large part to a couple primary season scoops by "citizen journalist" Mayhill Fowler. Their traffic is way, way, way up, and they're pushing the crazy notion that someone might want to buy the Huffington Post. The traffic will plummet come November 5, but Arianna's still sitting pretty promising further expansion.
2. Tina Fey: She's a superstar! Again! Or maybe for the first time? Who knows! She was already by just about every objective measure a huge success, as head writer of SNL with a hit pre-meltdown Lindsay Lohan comedy hit film and a Thursday night NBC sitcom (though some of us found her SNL tenure to be atrocious, her Mean Girls to be a soft retread of Heathers, and her well-praised sitcom to be mostly a lighter, wackier Larry Sanders elevated by two fantastic non-Fey performers), but somehow the conventional wisdom has become that the selection by John McCain of a woman who kinda looks like Fey as his Vice Presidential nominee was the best thing to happen to Fey since ever. She got a book deal and lots of promotion for the new season of 30 Rock, which will hopefully do a little better in the ratings this year (though who knows—people really do hate New York). And speaking of:
3. Lorne Michaels: Saturday Night Live seems better now that it has been since the early '90s (to us, of course), though really not that great. Still, Lorne's never-ending sketch show became suddenly relevant again this year with cable news networks endlessly replaying their politically themed sketches. 2004 was definitely the Daily Show election. Jon (and Stephen) are still great and still influential, but they're old. SNL's wackier, less satirical parodying has always been more palatable to balance-obsessed cable news folks and a sharply divided citizenry. And honestly, the OK debate sketches did completely lock in the overarching media narratives of each debate, and everyone now assumes that "I can see Russia from my house" is something Sarah Palin actually literally said.
4. Rachel Maddow: Boy, it's been a good season for NBC, right? Fox is in the doldrums, having never liked McCain to begin with and now facing a Republican loss. CNN is just... boring. We all love Anderson Cooper way more when there's not an election going on. So MSNBC wins! But the big winner is Rachel Maddow, the pundit-turned-host, who's getting fantastic ratings, especially for a liberal. Because she's not as abrasive as Keith Olbermann, and not as crazy as Chris Matthews; she's the new palatable reasonable liberal of the Obama era. Hooray!
5. Nate Silver: The Baseball Prospectus guy built his poll analyzing website from a Kos diary to a serious challenger to the entrenched Real Clear Politics mainstay in a matter of months, and he did it by being rational and scientific while remaining unapologetically liberal (the new, calm liberals are a big force this year). If his model predicts the results even somewhat accurately, expect a book and regular cable appearances for years to come. Which is not such a bad thing, because he's likable. Honorable Mention: MSNBC political analyst Chuck Todd, crazy Obama-loving gay conservative catholic blogger Andrew Sullivan, and Senator Hillary Clinton, who won over a lot of Americans and Media People who always, always hated her, intensely, by being the establishment white person candidate.