"Perhaps the best advice all along was to not turn the TV on this election night — to spend the evening making a good meal, listening to old jazz, reading a book, calmly sipping wine," says Hank Stuever. "While democracy started to crumble before our eyes, people shared song playlists, supplemented with Instagram pictures of dozing dogs and darkened TV screens. Sadly, most of us couldn’t avoid it, or didn’t have the luxury of tuning out. Too much hangs in the balance, and the dead seriousness of the outcome long ago stopped feeling like hyperbole. Having dreaded Tuesday night’s election coverage for, well, four long years now, there was the even more depressing realization that we could not not watch it. It was like forcing yourself to go to the umpteenth sequel of a horror movie in which the basement stairs never end, things just keep going down and down. Everything we were warned about came true: An early surge for President Trump didn’t officially reflect the hundreds of thousands of still uncounted votes in key parts of the swing states that were leaning heavily toward Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and no matter how many times CNN’s John King tried to point this out on his interactive wall map and urge patience and calm, nothing could penetrate his colleague Wolf Blitzer’s usual metabolic over-exuberance for the old ways. Just how many cases of borderline hypertension in American viewers is the cable news industry indirectly or directly responsible for, do you think? A rough guess will do." Stuever adds what fell flattest on election night were the two live late-night specials: Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand: Building America Great Again Better 2020 on Showtime and Trevor Noah's Votegasm 2020: What Could Go Wrong? (Again) on Comedy Central. "Now, after four years of pummeling Trump with the apparently useless ammunition of satire and outright disdain, Colbert decided to try again, opening with a tedious animated short from his Our Cartoon President spinoff (a Batman vs. Joker riff, in which Trump is the Joker) and, in his opening introduction, attempting to make light of the evening’s unknowability," says Stuever. "A reading of already old-news election returns resulted in groaner puns and jokes about different states...Noah didn’t fare much better with his show, which was set in his pandemic bunker and co-hosted by comedian Roy Wood Jr. The Daily Show’s usual attempts at humor from its correspondents felt, on this night, like a tired format, left over from a time when elections went more or less as planned — and lawfully."
TOPICS: Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, Arnon Mishkin, Brian Williams, Chris Wallace, Joe Biden, John King, Roy Wood Jr., Savannah Guthrie, Stephen Colbert, Steve Kornacki, Trevor Noah, 2020 Presidential Election, ABC News, Cable News, CBS News, NBC News, Trump Presidency