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In California, you needed cable

News nets, Drudge site first to announce outcome

For Californians looking for results from the election, it turned out all-news cablers Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC were actually the best options.

All three outlets called the race at 8 p.m. PDT sharp, while the major Los Angeles stations stuck with network feeds of primetime sports and entertainment programming.

Viacom duopoly stations KCBS and KCAL broke into regular programming about two minutes into the hour, cutting to a Dan Rather-anchored CBS newsbrief declaring the recall had won.

At about the same time, KABC offered a brief crawl declaring the results — but opted not to otherwise interrupt John Ritter’s final episode of “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.”

All stations eventually switched to election updates, but not before the cable news channels had moved on to talking head analysis of the race.

Any voter who had visited the Drudge Report Web site earlier in the afternoon had a sense that Arnold Schwarzenegger was en route to victory: The site had reported exit poll data for hours. And local and network commentators had been hinting of the results in the hours leading up to 8 p.m.

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