While many pundits were arguing whether Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney was the Iowa Caucus’ big winner, one thing is clear: you can forget about Rick and Mitt, it was Fox News that was the nights real winner.
Fox News was the top rated cable news network during the Iowa Caucus by far. They more than doubled the ratings of their rivals CNN and MSNBC, and averaged 2.15 million viewers according to Nielsen Research.
In stark contrast, CNN averaged 1 million viewers and MSNBC 932,000.
While Fox benefited from the fact that it was a Republican race and thus was likely to attract viewers for this reason, CNN provided the best coverage of the election by a country mile.
They had all the technological razzle-dazzle you could hope for, from the ‘Magic Wall’, to the ‘Flick Screen’ and the admittedly utterly confusing social media screen. Anderson Cooper summed it up by letting Ali Velshi, the social media commentator, know that even though they’d featured Ali five times that night, Anderson still had no idea what he was talking about, let alone what the point of the social media screen was.
CNN’s Jeannie Moose covers up the weirdness that was ‘CNN After Dark’ below:
However, what really counted on the night when the vote was so tight, and process stretched out so long that the process of projecting a winner had to be abandoned, was solid journalistic standards and sound political knowledge – something that CNN and their many pundits had in spades, and MSNBC and FOX seemed to lack.
All that you need to know about MSNBC was covered by an earlier post that I made (here). They seemed out of their depth and their hosts and pundits struggled to keep on top of the coverage.
Fox News wasn’t much better. Their reporting was wildly biased and in their minds Santorum was going to be the winner on the night regardless of the votes that he received. They all but abandoned their promise of providing ‘fair and balanced’ coverage, and their gaggle of seemingly vapid peroxide blonde pundits (who didn’t seem to know what was going on most of the time) were why the mute button was invented on televisions.
In contrast, CNN offered in-depth coverage on every issue, county and candidate imaginable. Regardless of what they were faced with CNN and its commentators handled it with aplomb. John King and Wolf Blitzer in particular were on top of their game and were a joy to behold.
If you managed to stay up long enough to witness it, ‘CNN After Dark’ as it was affectionately labelled, offered a much needed comedic break from the admittedly often mundane reporting of the Caucus.
Maybe the highlight of the night for not only CNN, but in terms of the coverage in general was Wolf Blitzer getting in contact with the Clinton County, Iowa Republican Chairwoman, Edith Pfeffer, and the woman who woke her up to get the votes to CNN, Carolyn Talett. That exchange is included below:
With the New Hampshire Primary fast approaching and South Carolina and Florida on the horizon, I suggest that you turn to CNN (if you’re lucky enough to have it) for all the coverage you’ll need on the Republican races.