Awkward TV burst out on election night -- and we need more of it.
No worries about Karl Rove questioning Fox News Presidential projections on live airwaves. I credit Fox News with being savvy enough to make a major Republican Party fundraiser a major commentator for its election coverage. Rove helped pull in some $250 million this past election, and we guess some of that media money made it onto Fox News. (Maybe not. Preaching to the choir can be wasteful media planning.) In any event, smart viewers could only find this all the more yummy for what followed.
On a panel of Fox News anchors and commentators on election night -- after a number of networks, including Fox News, had projected that President Obama would win in Ohio, effectively giving him a second term as President -- Rove sought to put a brake on things.
“We’ve got to be careful about calling this when we have 991 votes separating the candidates. I’d be very cautious about intruding into this process.” And then, there was a perhaps awkward silence on the set.
Was Rove telling Fox to stop its projections? Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly frankly replied: "That's awkward." But being a good journalist, she then walked down the hall to check out the research.
Pretty dramatic TV for sure. Viewers love it when they can't figure out what happens next.
Impromptu, unsettling moments are great for live TV, obviously, and especially for live discussion-oriented, commentary-heavy national news networks. But unscripted programming on live news has its consequences. Also on election night, Chris Matthews of MSNBC made a remark – which he profusely apologized for soon afterwards -- about Hurricane Sandy being good for the political process.
Did Rove apologize? (There is no apologizing in politics!) Maybe the election numbers are still in dispute somewhere. (Hello Florida, circa 2000!). Perhaps more drama is coming. But Fox News got what it wanted -- in TV terms, anyway. It posted 11.5 million viewers during the hours from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., second among all TV networks (after NBC) for the big election night on Tuesday.
News networks push for conflict conversation -- which makes for better television. But with networks like Fox News and MSNBC taking strong political sides, that isn't always the result.
On election night, were TV viewers looking for drama -- or some straightforward journalism? Perhaps a little of both.