We can all agree that last week was an unbelievably demanding one for the news media. It was also a tough one for those who cover the news media. Now that we’ve had time to take a breath after the chaotic week that was, TVNewser is naming its “5 MVPs of Election Week 2020.”
Before anyone questions our choices, or why we left any deserving candidates out, please note that these are just five of the hundreds of men and women who did fantastic work in front of and behind the camera last week under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Much respect to you all.
Here are our Election Week MVPs:
- Arnon Mishkin (Fox News polling director)
Fox News Channel’s longtime polling director Arnon Mishkin leads one of the most well-respected data teams in media. However, eight years after FNC political analyst Karl Rove challenged the network’s call giving Ohio—and the 2012 election—to President Obama, Mishkin’s team found itself in the crosshairs once again for its controversial call of Arizona for Biden on election night 2020. The Trump campaign, conservatives and fellow Fox Newsers were highly skeptical of Fox News Decision Desk’s call, but Mishkin didn’t waver.
Democracy 2020 co-anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum (co-MVPs in their own right), had Mishkin on the special election night broadcast about an hour after the network called Arizona so the polling chief could explain his team’s thinking.
“We made it after a half hour of debating it,” Mishkin told Baier and MacCallum. “I’m sorry, the president is not going to win enough votes to eliminate that seven-point lead.”
Baier responded by saying, “100% sure? So all this pushback, you are going to say we made the right call when we made it?
Mishkin: “We made the correct call and that is why we made the correct call when we made it. I’m sorry.”
Baier: “You don’t have to be sorry. Thank you very much. We appreciate your time. Get back in there so we can make more calls.”
Fox News Decision Desk Director Arnon Mishkin doubled down on calling Arizona for Biden.
“I’m sorry, the president is not going to be able to take over and win enough votes to eliminate that seven-point lead that the former vice president has.”
Here are his full comments on why pic.twitter.com/0KJAdY8v5S
— Stephanie K. Baer (@skbaer) November 4, 2020
- John King (CNN chief national correspondent/Inside Politics host)
The CNN chief national correspondent and midday host might be better known to more casual news viewers as CNN’s election-map guru, the man who runs the “Magic Wall” during Election Night in America coverage.
King has an encyclopedic knowledge of Americans’ voting patterns in various pats of the country, having covered the previous eight presidential campaigns and every midterm in between; repeat visits to all 50 states dating back to 1987 gives him a unique insight into how Americans traditionally vote.
And as The Daily Show’s Michael Kosta amusingly noted, he just doesn’t stop talking.
CNN the last 24 hours pic.twitter.com/a0XJO7de0w
— Michael Kosta (@michaelkosta) November 5, 2020
CNN’s Energizer bunny, King at one point analyzed election results from the Magic Wall for 11 consecutive hours, from when CNN’s Election Night in America coverage kicked off (Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. ET), until 3 a.m. Wednesday, before making a return to CNN coverage Wednesday afternoon.
According to the Washington Post, he slept two and a half hours on Tuesday night; four hours on Wednesday night; and another three hours Thursday night.
He has requested (and been granted) some deserved time off later this month.
The longtime CNN anchor gave props to his staffers:
— John King (@JohnKingCNN) November 8, 2020
- Steve Kornacki (MSNBC national political correspondent)
Arguably the most-widely-talked-about newser to come out of 2020 election coverage is MSNBC’s national political correspondent Steve Kornacki.
MSNBC senior ep (and the man in charge of the network’s Decision 2020 coverage) Pat Burkey warned us we’d be seeing a lot of Kornacki (and even a “Kornacki Cam” keeping tabs on him even when he wasn’t speaking) and boy did we ever.
Kornacki, one of the most energetic and informative people on TV throughout the week, was at “the big board” for the start of MSNBC’s Decision 2020 coverage at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 3, and remained there until 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 4. That’s 19 consecutive hours on-air.
Joe Scarborough said he was “going to make [MSNBC president] Phil [Griffin] pay more for Steve Kornacki,” adding, “Know your know value, my friend.”
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) November 7, 2020
The hashtag #TrackingKornacki helped people follow the sleepless data guru, who caught the attention of Chrissy Teigen and countless other pop culture figures.
Even NBC Sports play-by-play man Mike Tirico gave a shout-out to Kornacki during the network’s Saturday prime time broadcast of the Clemson-Notre Dame college football game.
- Gayle King (CBS This Morning co-host)
The CBS This Morning co-host worked abnormal hours last week. For instance, on election night, King was on television from 7 p.m. until 3 a.m ET. She returned to the air just 3 hours later for CBS This Morning, staying on until noon ET to do CTM East and West Coast live.
This would become a routine for King throughout the week.
The longtime CBS Newser reportedly slept in her signature yellow dress on a couch in the Times Square studio at one point.
Honorable mentions from the CBS side: Polling chief Anthony Salvanto, who worked basically non-stop throughout the week, and political correspondent Ed O’Keefe, who not only sat at the desk during the week, but was also on-set for CBS This Morning: Saturday coverage.
- Linsey Davis (ABC News Live Prime anchor)
Linsey Davis has seen her stock rise in recent months. The ABC Newser has co-anchored 2020 political convention, debate and election night coverage for the TV network, along with George Stephanopoulos and David Muir. In addition to her work on the linear network, Davis is the lead anchor for ABC’s streaming news service, ABC News Live. Last week, she anchored multiple hours of coverage on the streaming service before joining ABC prime time coverage.
What makes Davis an MVP in our eyes is her versatility. She was pulling double duty on digital and linear all week, and no other on-air talent was doing that. As a result, she spent nearly as much time on-camera as her fellow honorees.
In 1964 when Kamala Harris was born, black women still couldn’t vote. Think about the magnitude of that. ‘There’s so much power in seeing someone who looks like you.’ @LinseyDavis
— James Longman (@JamesAALongman) November 7, 2020