ELECTION EDITION: Viewing guide; where to watch; how anchors prep; when the polls close; why pollsters are under pressure; Crowe as Ailes



"In my 25 years of election coverage at CNN, we have never seen interest in a midterm election in the way we are seeing it this year," Sam Feist told me.

Feist, CNN's DC bureau chief, said "we see that interest in elevated television ratings when we cover political stories; we see it in our web traffic; and of course we see record early voting. It's certainly looking like this is a Midterm for the record books."

So here we go. I'm sending this letter out at 4:45 p.m. ET to get it out before CNN's special coverage starts at 5... Our live coverage is streaming for free on the CNN home page now... 

How anchors prepare

I asked Jake Tapper about his election day routine. "I exercise in the morning and do a lot of core and stretches since I will be seated on set from 4pm-1am," he said. And "I make a lot of phone calls to smart D's and Rs to see what they see going on out there."

Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, and Dana Bash will helm CNN's coverage. John King will be at the Magic Wall. Nia-Malika Henderson will cover the gubernatorial races.

Some anchors took midday naps to prepare. At lunchtime, CBS's Norah O'Donnell told me, "I read everything. Clips from every national and state paper. You should see my office! Plus multiple calls throughout the day. Working on squeezing in an hour nap!"

And after George Stephanopoulos woke up from his nap, he told me he's treating this just like a presidential year. "Research, reporting and rest -- and being open to any and all possibilities..."

 >> Headline on NYTimes.com right now: "Long Lines at Polls in Key States in Dramatic Battle for Congress"



What time do the polls close?

The first polls close at 6 p.m. ET. The NYT has a very handy list laying out the closing times in each state. Here it is.

And don't miss CNN's excellent guide by Eric Bradner and Dan Merica: "How the midterms will unfold, hour by hour..."


What time does the coverage start?

On cable, it's already underway. CNN's special starts at 5 and MSNBC and Fox's specials start at 6. On the left, The Young Turks has a live stream up and running, and Crooked Media will be streaming on YouTube starting at 7 p.m. ET. On the right, The Gateway Pundit will be streaming an election night special with co-host Steve Bannon.

The cable newsers and live streamers will be competing for viewers against NBC, ABC and CBS to a much greater degree than in past midterm years. Those three broadcasters usually do one-hour specials on midterm nights. But this year, they will all be live from 8 til 11. PBS also has a special broadcast starting at 8. Here's my full story about the coverage plans on TV and online...


The joy of not knowing what's about to happen

"The great thing about an Election Day like this," Feist told me, "is that we have no idea what's going to happen. We have prepared for every scenario and just like our viewers, we are going to have to watch the vote count come in." BTW, the Magic Wall has been completely reprogrammed... Details here...


Pace yourself!

This is really just some advice for myself. Embarrassing confession: I fell asleep during election night in 2016. I told myself I was taking a 10 minute nap, and the next thing I knew, Trump was on stage giving his victory speech! So I'm stocked up on coffee...


Fine dining at the NYT

Politics editor Patrick Healy tells me: "We have dozens of reporters in the newsroom and DC and out in the field reporting and ready for tonight. I brought in two dozen bagels, cream cheese, OJ this morning, and the Insomnia cookies came last night from colleagues. Tonight's dinner: Pizza, what else?"

The WSJ's Byron Tau always compiles lists of newsroom dinners on election nights. Check his Twitter for fun updates...

Shoutout to the locals

There are going to be some surprises and shocks in the hours ahead... And some of them will happen in smaller markets where there are only a few reporters and TV crews present for the victory parties or concession speeches. Cheers to the local reporters whose sleepy assignments will turn out to be tremendous! 

The power of progressive media on display tonight?

I have a feeling that we're going to see the power of progressive media on Tuesday night. We've talked a lot about the power of conservative media over the years... and there's been a serious effort to build up a counterweight on the left since 2016. One big example: Crooked Media. The company has been aggressive with its GOTV efforts. Various Crooked podcasts have highlighted Dems in various and precarious races.

Will there be some Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez-like surprises? Jon Favreau tells me: "I'm too nervous to think about any surprises! But like everyone else I'm especially excited about Gillum, Beto, and Abrams - knowing that the latter 2 have a very steep climb (especially Beto)..."

Late shows go live

Frank Pallotta emails: Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah, and Seth Meyers will all be live on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I can't wait to see how they deal with late breaking news... I hear Colbert may toss it back to CBS News HQ for brief updates if there are big surprises...

Overnight anchors

Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon will helm late night coverage on CNN along with a big supporting cast...

On Fox, Ed Henry and Julie Banderas take over at 1 a.m. ET...

And on MSNBC, Willie Geist will be anchoring starting at 2 a.m., leading into the traditional day-after "Morning Joe" broadcast from the "SNL" studio at 30 Rock...

At CBS, the "CBS This Morning" team is anchoring along with Jeff Glor until 2 a.m. ET... Then they'll be back live at 7...

 -- Steve King is prohibiting the Des Moines Register from his election night event. The newspaper said that Steve King's son, Jeff King, wrote in an email, "We are not granting credentials to the Des Moines Register or any other leftist propaganda media outlet with no concern for reporting the truth." Here's Tom Kludt's full story... (CNN)

 -- Reminder: The NYT will have "not one, but two midterm-election needles..." Joe Pompeo has all the details here... (VF)

 -- Just announced: George Packer is joining The Atlantic as a staff writer... (Twitter)

"It disturbs me to my core" 

Fox staffers express outrage over Hannity's rally appearance 

Oliver Darcy emails: It's safe to say that the journalists who work at Fox News were infuriated by Sean Hannity's appearance at Trump's Monday night election rally. I spoke to more than half a dozen employees who described the anger in the newsroom. "People throughout the company think a new line was crossed," one senior Fox employee told me. Another senior Fox employee told me, "It disturbs me to my core. I am so f---ing mad." And a third senior Fox employee told me that "no one...expected what happened last night." The person added, "I'm aghast as are a number of other people." Read my full story here...

Fox says Hannity's rally participation was an "unfortunate distraction" 

Darcy adds: In a remarkable move, Fox News issued a Tuesday afternoon statement that chastised Hannity and Jeanine Pirro -- although without naming them. "Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events," the network said, even though Pirro has been doing just that for months. "We have an extraordinary team of journalists helming our coverage tonight and we are extremely proud of their work. This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed." I asked how exactly the matter had been addressed, but the spokesperson declined to elaborate. 

Hannity also tweeted a statement, saying that his appearance on stage at the rally was "NOT planned." He also said he was "not referring to my journalist colleagues" last night when he slammed members of the media stationed at the back of the room as "fake news." But he said "ALL" of them were "fake..."

Zurawik's take

Fox News gave itself "totally over to Trump on election eve," David Zurawik wrote, "in a new propaganda low even for Sean Hannity." He says "that's how it works with a messaging machine run by White House..."

Where are the Murdochs?

One more observation from Darcy: Noticeably silent as Hannity grows more and more out of control are Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, who control Fox News. I reached out to Hope Hicks, who is now chief comms officer for Fox to see if either of them had any comment. I did not hear back...

 -- Eliana Johnson tweeted: "This sort of thing would NOT have happened if Ailes was still there. (Compare to 2011 Tea Party rally incident.) It happens because current FNC execs can't control their top talent..."


 -- Fox News was apparently trying to attract fans of InfoWars on Apple's App Store. Variety's Todd Spangler observed that when users searched for "InfoWars" in the App Store, an ad for the Fox News app was the first return. Fox News has now discontinued the ad. A Fox exec says it "was an error, which has since been corrected..." (Variety)

 -- Smart stuff from McKay Coppins here: Regardless of Tuesday's results, Trump has succeeded in taking over the GOP, "with disloyal Republicans getting primaried and purged, formerly fringe media outlets gaining mainstream influence, and key party institutions mutating into weapons of presidential culture war..." (The Atlantic)

 -- SE Cupp's view: "Right now, so much depends on which conservative genes become dominant and which become recessive..." (VF)

 -- Even with a presidential interview for the premiere episode, "Axios on HBO" had a tame start on Sunday night... Just about 200,000 viewers, according to the overnight ratings... Time will tell if it reaches a much bigger audience via on demand... 

Monitoring misinfo on election day

Via CNN's Greg Wallace: "Federal officials said they are aware of voting misinformation that has been spread, but not aware of any 'that we can attribute to a foreign actor.' A DHS official told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that there is some 'intentional misinformation' that has spread. That has 'been rapidly addressed by the platforms,' an apparent reference to social media, or by law enforcement, which is 'engaging with the folks who are sending those out,' the official said. Other misinformation appears to be accidental, the official said, such as text messages sent this morning telling voters to cast their ballots tomorrow."

 -- ICYMI, here's my look at how "fake news" has morphed and multiplied since 2016...

Today is a test for pollsters

The polling industry has a lot on the line. Critics blamed pollsters when voters were caught off guard in 2016. Old cries of "don't believe the polls" became fevered shouts. And Trump has encouraged distrust by calling certain polls "fake" and claiming they are used to "suppress" the vote. So can the industry regain trust? Here's my full story...

Keep this in mind

In special elections since 2016, Democrats have repeatedly outperformed polls of their races. The top example was the Virginia governors' race. "Ralph Northam was favored by three points. He ended up winning by nine," Harry Enten told me.

No, past outcomes are not an indicator of future results. But WaPo's Philip Bump is on to something here: "The polling miss that defines 2018 might not be the one from 2016. It may be the one from 2017."

GLOBAL interest in the results

Hadas Gold emails from across the pond: Typically midterm elections in the US don't get heavy coverage abroad. Not this time. Europeans especially are obsessed with the election and what it means for Donald Trump. Tuesday morning, the BBC's flagship news radio show was so midterms-heavy it could've been an American station but for the British accents. Check out some of the front pages from FranceGermany, and The UK. The Atlantic has a nice write up here...

CBS News political director welcomes baby boy on election day!

An election day baby! Congratulations to CBS News political director Caitlin Conant and her husband Alex... "Quite fittingly," CBS says, "Connor Dunn Conant was born this morning, five minutes before the polls opened. He will be able to cast his first vote in 2038."


Panel of judges assigned to hear DOJ appeal of AT&T merger case

Jessica Schneider reports: "A panel of 3 judges on the United States Court of Appeals for D.C. has been assigned to hear the Justice Department's appeal of the AT&T merger case on December 6, 2018. The judges are Judith W. Rogers, Robert L. Wilkins and David B. Sentelle. Judge Rogers was appointed by President Bill Clinton, Judge Wilkins was appointed by President Barack Obama, and Judge Sentelle was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and is the Senior Judge on the Circuit Court. Oral argument is set for December 6, when the Justice Department will argue that the District Court Judge, Richard Leon, erred in letting the merger between AT&T and Time Warner move forward because he misunderstood "fundamental principles of economics."

ICYMI, check out Hadas' analysis on what it means for the appeal when Democratic-appointed judges are assigned to a case like this. 


 -- Defy Media is laying off all the employees in its L.A. production office... (TubeFilter)

-- The European Commission has now approved, with some conditions, Disney's acquisition of those Fox assets... (EU)

 -- Here are the takeaways from the report that Facebook commissioned into how its platform was "used to fuel political division and bloodshed in Myanmar..." (CNN)

Hadas' dispatch from the Web Summit in Lisbon

Hadas Gold emails: I'm in Lisbon for Web Summit, and today spoke to Guardian CEO David Pemsel. He announced on stage that Google is now funding a new venture called Guardian Voice Lab, which will deliver the Guardian's journalism through in-home speakers and AI like Google Assistant. Pemsel also announced that one million people have donated to the Guardian since 2016 -- reader donations now outpace advertising revenue -- and they expect to break even by March...

First look at Russell Crowe as Roger Ailes

Production started this week for Showtime's miniseries on Fox News and Roger Ailes. People magazine got a sneak peek showing Russell Crowe on set as the late Fox News chairman... 

Lowry's review of 'The Front Runner'

Brian Lowry emails: Columbia Pictures sought to capitalize on Election Day by premiering "The Front Runner" -- an account of Gary Hart's failed 1988 presidential campaign -- in select cities on Tuesday, in advance of a wider release on Nov. 21. Directed by Jason Reitman, and based on Matt Bai's book, the movie stars Hugh Jackman as Hart, and captures a moment when candidates' personal lives -- in this case, Hart's infidelity -- were no longer deemed off limits, thus becoming as much a media story as a political one. Read more...

Triumph on... Colbert?!

Brian Lowry emails: There was a lot of buzz Monday night about Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's interview with Ted Cruz, which aired on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert." Robert Smigel, who plays Triumph, has traditionally been associated with Conan O'Brien's show, but also has a long history with Colbert, as the two worked together as writers on the short-lived "The Dana Carvey Show," whose collection of talent prompted the documentary "Too Funny to Fail..."

AMC hiking the price of its MoviePass rival service for some customers

"AMC Theatres will soon raise the price of its movie ticketing service in more than a dozen states," Jill Disis reports. "The company announced this week that the cost of A-list — the MoviePass-like subscription program AMC introduced this summer — will go up by $2 to $4 a month in 15 states and the District of Columbia on January 9. The price will remain unchanged at $20 a month in the rest of the country." Details here...


By Lisa Respers France:

 -- The votes are in and....Idris Elba is People's 'Sexiest Man Alive' for 2018! Ok, there wasn't really an election, but still...

 -- Rebel Wilson apologized after Twitter took her to task for claiming to be first plus-size female rom-com star...

 -- An Aretha Franklin documentary that has been shelved for almost 50 years is finally set to hit the screen...

That's a wrap on today's newsletter... We'll be back after the results are in... Email me feedback anytime... 
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