Date: 8th November 2000

As Florida Goes, so Goes TV

Many television pundits were embarrassed to the point of humiliation Tuesday night when results of national exit polls proved unreliable, or, in the case of the key state of Florida, massively wrong.

After spending parts of nearly two hours analyzing why Florida had gone to Gore, network analysts and anchors appeared first stunned and then chagrined when they were forced to announce that the state was "too close to call." Ad-libbed CNN anchor Bernard Shaw to CNN's political analyst Jeff Greenfield: "Do you like your crow well done?" Commented Dan Rather: "To err is human but to really foul up requires a computer." (Early on in the evening Rather had vowed that CBS would not call any results in any state until they were certain.)

Ironically in this day of high-tech election coverage, some of the soundest analysis was delivered by Tim Russert, who appeared on NBC and MSNBC with a small white-board and marker to calculate the latest returns and describe what they meant in terms of the popular vote and the Electoral College. [By early morning Gore was leading in the popular vote 48,149,029 to Bush's 47,913,935, but trailing in the electoral vote. It appeared that the election would hinge on Florida, where Bush appeared to be expanding his lead over Gore in the recount.

Source: Studio Briefing