Critics Praise CNN, ABC For Election Night Coverage

By Merrill Knox 

Television critics are already weighing in on Tuesday night’s Election coverage, with praise being directed at CNN and ABC.

The Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple calls CNN’s coverage a “triumph of reporting,” with most of his praise directed at CNN’s chief national correspondent, John King:

On Tuesday night, King was political America’s very own county commissioner at large. He breezed from counties in Florida to counties in Ohio to counties in Virginia, each time contextualizing precisely what was going on in the race. His presentation was relentless in comparing President Obama’s performance in the critical counties to his tallies from the 2008 campaign, a marker for viewers to judge whether the president was on track to win another term.

David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun also praises CNN, taking aim at MSNBC for its “ideologically driven” coverage:

And then, all the the anchors and analysts at CNN remained silent as the cameras and microphones took viewers from Los Angeles to Boston, Chicago, Kenya and Las Vegas — letting those of us who were watching experience the sights and sounds of victory. CNN reported the moment rather than editorializing.

On MSNBC, by contrast, Rachel Maddow, who was anchoring that channel’s coverage, followed the announcement of the projection, which was based on work done not by MSNBC, but rather NBC News, by declaring, “a point of privilege.”

In the Chicago-Sun Times, Tom Shales declares “ABC News is the winner in 2012’s Election Night coverage”:

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos truly ascended to the very first rank of TV anchors, the potential to be the Walter Cronkite of the twenty-teens. He co-chaired the event with the indefatigable if sometimes overly thrilled Diane Sawyer, whose energy is awe-inspiring, though there sometimes seems to be way too much air around her words and coming out of her ears.

Stephanopoulos, who carries perhaps too heavy a work-load at ABC (he co-anchors “Good Morning, America” and hosts Sunday’s “This Week” series), brings heart and spirit as well as tremendous smarts to the task of political coverage, and if he’s sometimes a trifle wonky, Sawyer is there to humanize him and the coverage. On Election Night, they were pure gold.

And the New York TimesAlessandra Stanley pokes fun at each network’s gimmicks, noting that the networks have to go to great lengths to set themselves apart because, on Election Day, “everyone had to work with the same numbers”:

And with so little to give, the networks compensated with extravagant décor. NBC turned Rockefeller Center into a “Democracy Plaza” with a giant election map etched into the ice of the skating rink and added another gimmick: graphics on a building facade that acted as an Electoral College scoreboard. CNN, not to be outdone, had its own version sprawled over the Empire State Building like a star-spangled King Kong.

ABC put its stamp on it capacious set, which when the camera pulled back was dominated by a huge round floor map left empty. Seated at the far edge, the anchors George Stephanopoulos and Diane Sawyer looked like “Dancing With the Stars” judges waiting for contestants to start the next paso doble competition.