Brian Williams channeled the late Tim Russert on MSNBC.
Republican strategist Karl Rove resurrected P.T. Barnum on Fox News.
Conservative Republican analyst Bill Kristol joked about moving to Canada, something many Western New Yorkers could relate to.
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, appearing on Fox News, referenced the famous 1948 presidential race that led to the erroneous newspaper headline “Dewey Beats Truman.”
As you can see, I did a lot of dial-switching Tuesday night while watching Republican Donald Trump’s upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
But I always came back from the other channels to CNN’s election map superstar, John King.
While CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer constantly and, at times, annoyingly, peppered King with questions and interrupted him, King illustrated Trump’s strong position among white working class voters that led to a victory that surprised the pollsters and may even have put some of them out of business. It also most likely will lead the media business to do a much-needed autopsy about how it covered this election campaign.
King’s ability to dissect the vote in battleground states and states in Clinton’s supposed blue wall made it clear that viewers most likely could have gone to bed hours before Trump was officially declared the winner.
In a sign of either extreme caution or not believing what they were seeing on King’s map, the networks were extremely slow in calling races in key states.
By 11 p.m., when supposed Clinton states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were in play along with New Hampshire, it was pretty clear that Trump was going to win.
Actually, it was pretty clear by the hours it took for Clinton to win Virginia, a state that she was expected to win by a wide margin with the help of her running mate, Tim Kaine.
What made the result even more shocking was during the day the Clinton campaign was optimistic about a victory and the Trump campaign was so pessimistic that CNN’s Jim Acosta said at 7:23 p.m. that a senior adviser told him “it will take a miracle for us” to win.
At 4:30 p.m. pollster Frank Luntz – a Republican – said on Fox News: “I still see a narrow victory for Hillary Clinton.”
But the first sign that a Trump victory was possible came around 5 p.m. when a CNN exit poll revealed that 38 percent of voters valued change over experience and good judgment.
I went to bed at 1 a.m. when it was extremely clear that Trump was going to get his miracle and words like “amazing,” “shocking,” “historic” and "political earthquake" were going to be thrown around.
By that time, I had written down several comments made by members of the surprised media.
Brian Williams: As it became clear that Clinton was in trouble in Michigan, the MSNBC anchor paraphrased Russert’s famous “Florida, Florida, Florida” line about what was going to decide the 2000 race. “Channeling our old friend Tim Russert, who we all miss, especially on nights like this, we all vow to name Michigan 'Michigan, Michigan, Michigan.' ” But Trump won Michigan and Wisconsin, a former blue state that Clinton never visited during her campaign.
Karl Rove: Asked by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace if there “had ever been a bigger shock” as a Trump win appeared probable, Rove cracked: “Not since P.T. Barnum considered running for president.”
Bill Kristol: Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos what Trump’s No. 1 job will be, Kristol, who was a Trump critic, cracked: “I’ll have to withdraw my application to go to Canada” before he started his answer.
Doris Kearns Goodwin: Asked for a historical perspective about what appeared to be a shocking upset, Goodwin said the media misjudged Harry Truman’s appeal to the masses in 1948, which eventually led to an apology by famed journalist James Reston. She quoted Reston as saying, “I was listening to the establishment view.”
Jeffrey Lord: The Trump surrogate on CNN pretty much channeled Reston’s remark by explaining Trump’s apparent victory this way: “(Clinton) was the Jeb Bush of the Democratic party. She was the face of the establishment.”
Jake Tapper: I wrote down a lot of Tapper lines. The CNN anchor noted around 11:30 p.m.: “I haven’t seen a race this close since Al Gore and George Bush in 2000.” He also said the apparent result may put pollsters and the projection business out of business. But his money quote came around midnight when Trump won Iowa. “The state that launched (Barack Obama’s) political career just voted for Donald Trump, once a cheerleader for the birther movement and now … on the verge of the being the president of the United States.”
Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer: The Fox News duo had an amusing and slightly contentious conversation around 8:40 p.m. that ended with O’Reilly asking Krauthammer if he’d predict a Clinton win. “If you’ll force me, I’ll take it,” said Krauthammer. Hours later, he was forced to take it back.
Van Jones: When it became apparent that Trump was going to win, the Clinton supporter became very emotional after congratulating the two Trump supporters on a panel with him: “People are taking about a miracle. I am hearing a nightmare.” He then explained why many people criticized by Trump during the campaign are “terrified” by his victory, adding one Muslim friend wonders if leaving the country was necessary. I’d be shocked if his speech hasn’t gone viral by now.
Jim Acosta: Hours after talking to the Trump senior adviser who thought a miracle was needed, the CNN reporter said around midnight that he got a text from someone using a hockey reference: “Do you believe in miracles?”
As play-by-play man, Al Michaels responded to his own question in the 1980 U.S. win over the Soviet Union, the answer again Tuesday was “yes.”