And a Week of Watching
New York magazine|November 09, 2020
The agony of cable news (Kornacki notwithstanding).
By Kathryn VanArendonk

A crowd in Bushwick, Brooklyn, watching election returns on November 3.

AT LEAST ONE THING REMAINED consistent through Election Week’s sea of unknowns: Watching everything unfold in real time on cable news felt like being slowly flayed alive, or perhaps buried under a suffocating pile of county maps, each of them stalled at 82 percent returned. For months, we had been warned that there would be no clear winner on Tuesday night and that the tallying would likely stretch for days or even weeks. Yet despite this anticipated limbo, the time we spent glued to the news was much like being stretched on a rack, with each new tranche of ballots providing one more opportunity for agony.

The worst was CNN on Tuesday night. From 7 p.m. until midnight, it was an unending marathon of the John King Magic Board Show—an hours-long stream of the anchor’s upper body in front of his large touchscreen map, zooming in and out of states and counties, flipping back and forth between 2016 and 2020 results, again and again circling MiamiDade County and drawing parallel lines to connect Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

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