Journalist Michael Kinsley, who co-hosted the CNN program “Crossfire” from 1989-1995, writes at Bloomberg View that TV election night coverage is “basically fake.” and that networks should be more honest with their viewers.
At issue is the exit polling data. Kinsley argues that by the time the first polls close, the networks and the AP have enough data to make calls in many states, but they decline to do so in order to not affect the vote. He indicates that when he worked at CNN, he was clued in to what was happening, but was not supposed to talk about it.
It’s easy to see why the TV networks don’t mind putting on a play if the suspense keeps people watching past 6:30 p.m. Especially when they get civic brownie points for doing so. And why is this so important? Maybe it’s not so very important — a writer needs some hobbyhorses, and this is one of mine. It amazes me that, with the encouragement of the government, not to mention an endless string of foundations and commissions and pompous individuals, some of the biggest players in the media business conspire to present a view of the world that they know to be false.
It’s as if the government staged the whole walk-on-the-Moon thing in a warehouse somewhere, or as if Obama was born in Kenya. Except this one is for real.