White Smoke: There Is a New Pope

By Alex Weprin Comment

The College of Cardinals has selected a new Pope on its first full day of voting. White smoke began to rise from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel at 2:06 PM ET (7:06 PM in Vatican City), signaling that a new Pope had been chosen. The Bells of St Peter rang throughout the city minutes later.

The results had been expected, with all three cable news channels featuring chyrons to the effect of “smoke expected momentarily” in the minutes leading up to the event. There was, as one might also expect, some confusion as to what color the smoke was.

“Kinda dark, kinda light, it is the lightest smoke we have seen,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo said. “We are going to be transparent about it, we don’t know.”

“It appears grey, it is whitish,” FNC’s Megyn Kelly said.

“It looks white,” MSNBC’s Tamron Hall said.

The color was made clear relatively quickly against the black sky, even if it started out greyish. The broadcasters broke in moments after the smoke appeared for special reports. Every anchor appeared to be in position to cover the event when it happened.

The three business networks also covered the Papal selection: CNBC had to interrupt a live interview with Martha Stewart to break the news, while FBN erroneously reported that the smoke was black, airing the chyron “New Pope not selected”, before quickly correcting themselves. Bloomberg did not have a chimneycam, but broke into programming when it confirmed that the smoke was white.

Update: Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been selected as Pope. He will take the name Pope Francis I. Broadcast and cable networks went non-stop until the announcement was made at 3:12 Pm ET. A search of TVEyes shows that Bergoglio was not on the radar of U.S. networks. He was mentioned only twice in the last few days, once on CNN and once on MSNBC. The Spanish language networks, however, did float Bergoglio as a possible frontrunner.