Every four years, for 200 years or so, American sat down to watch Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, or Tom Brokaw announce who the next president will be. Those anchors did it with authority, and the networks took their solemn duties seriously. Even when things went wrong, as in 2000, we could rely on those anchors to relate clearly and simply what was actually Going On. This year, though, was a goddamn mess. Jennings is dead, Brokaw's an ignored old man at a circus sideshow, and Rather was probably exiled to some channel only Dish Network subscribers get, or overseas. The options were CNN, the choice in 2004 of the world's most disappointed liberals, Fox News, a hideous death rattle already in progress, or MSNBC, where Pat Buchanan and Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews shout nonsense, nonstop. No one won. CNN had the holograms. What was that? What was the point of that? NBC lost Tim Russert this year, and we missed his whiteboard. It was definitely preferable to Chuck Todd—who we like!—standing on the holodeck with magical 3D graphic map that kept slowly turning from side to side for no reason. John King and his stupid magic map still serve no actual purpose. Meanwhile CNN refused to call any states too early, because of the 2004 debacle, even though no states were prematurely called in 2004, so to figure out that Obama won Pennsylvania and Ohio and hence the presidency (all before the polls closed on the West Coast!) you had to turn to MSNBC. And finally, Wolf Blitzer needs to get off of TV. He's everything that's wrong with CNN—a complete inability or unwillingness to ever say anything, just mindless equivalence and hedging and cliche, because CNN is the "unbiased" network. Gah. We're with Jack Shafer on this: Blitzer's infuriating. In 2012 we'll probably have to watch PBS. And then everyone loses.
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