CNN clearly wants to wow viewers with the whiz-bang: the “data wall,” the “election matrix,” the “sentiment analysis” of the “Twittersphere,” the exit poll 3-D doodads that from time to time crowd Ali Velshi out of the shot entirely. But what I am watching—really, watching—is Wolf Blitzer. Wandering the set. With pen and notepad. (A human foil, sort of, for all the high-tech stuff).

Early in the evening, Blitzer was on it. Ordering us to “stand by.” Announcing “we’re about to make projections,” and then…making those projections. Like this one, at 8 p.m.:

“CNN projects that the Democratic candidate, Chris Coons, will be the next U.S. Senator from the state of Delaware, beating Christine O’Donnell. Everyone remembers Christine O’Donnell, the candidate who said she was not a witch. She is not going to be a United States senator, at least for now, either.


Soon after 9 p.m., as Florida’s newest senator, Republican Marco Rubio, finished his victory speech, Blitzer weighed in effusively, calling Rubio “a very attractive and impressive young man who’s got a huge future.” (A personal projection?)

Also attractive to Blitzer: CNN’s Ali Velshi, as he fought to remain visible amid the floating exit poll data presented in colorful Lego-like stacks (the “little chiclets,” as Velshi called them). “I can’t even get behind that because it’s so big,” Velshi protested at one point, sidestepping a tall mound of “chiclets” apparently depicting that “89% of respondents say that the economy is not so good or poor.”

“You look good behind those walls,” Blitzer reassured Velshi, soon thereafter adding, “Stand by.”

Of Nikki Haley’s gubernatorial victory in South Carolina, Blitzer informed viewers that “her parents are Indians from India.”

Here’s Blitzer talking about Pennsylvania, just after 11p.m.: “It looks like this one will have to be decided the old-fashioned way, by the actual votes being counted.”

And, Blitzer on CNN’s “sentiment analysis” (read: reading tweets): “Twitter! What can we learn from the latest tweets that have been sent out?” We can learn, as John King explained at one point, after “a look at the conversation in the Twittersphere,” that “in “Rand Paul’s home state of Kentucky, 28%, a plurality, of the tweets about the Tea Party today were negative.” Huh.

Here’s another “sentiment” I found “in the Twittersphere:”

Election Night: Between Spitzer, Gergen & Carville, the CNN panel looks like the Cantina Scene from Star Wars

- Liz Cox Barrett

MSNBC and Fox News

So, my election night was spent flicking between MSNBC and Fox News; my surf along the Republican wave guided by the blustery Keith Olbermann and his panel of MSNBC big names for some returns, and by Fox’s Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier for others. As you might expect, it was like dinner with the Montagues and Capulets; two households alike in indignity with very different takes on the dishes being served.

Interestingly, it was MSNBC that proved the more exciting broadcast, if also the more abrasive and combative. With a navy blue theme for its well-produced graphics, and Chuck Todd sliding through maps and figures on what appeared to be an oversized (and uncooperative) iPad, MSNBC populated its panel with the channel’s popular prime timers and contributors: Olbermann in the middle, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow on either side, Eugene Robinson in the mix, and Lawrence O’Donnell on the end—“because your show is the latest.” (Ed Schultz was on duty in Nevada.) Unsurprisingly, everything came with a “Dems are doing better than expected spin,” and plenty of snark for some of the more colorful Republican candidates—Olbermann cut to Christine O’Donnell’s concession speech with a short, “Get your popcorn.” Was not the only snarky Olbermann comment of the evening, but to be fair, it was pretty entertaining. Pass the butter.

CJR Staff is a contributor to CJR.