The New York Observer hung out with Brit Hume of Fox News to watch how the network dealt with the results. “For the first time in the five years since Fox overtook CNN, the network’s core conservative viewership faced disappointing news on election night,” writes Rebecca Dana.
All of the networks were generally cautious in their coverage, even if Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman got a little punchy as MSNBC stayed on the air past 3 a.m. in the East. (At one point, they couldn’t stop praising each other; at another Matthews wondered what was taking Montana so long to count the votes, given that it is such a small state).
While networks stemmed the flow of exit poll data, there certainly is bound to be even more handwringing on their accuracy. An NBC spokeswoman told the New York Times that early exit poll data looked so “way out of whack” in favor of the Democrats that they knew not to trust it, while Fox News commentator Bill Kristol speculated that many Republican voters were too cranky to answer polltakers questions. But the networks did rely on the data to explain what issues voters were most concerned about, with corruption topping the list over other issues like the economy, terrorism and the war in Iraq.