Midterm mania; Hannity on stage with Trump; Tuesday’s plans; inside the rehearsals; pollster pressure; NBC’s regret; Facebook removes more pages


Election Day in America!

What makes this midterm election different from all the others? Better question: Who? The answer, of course, is President Trump. Voter interest is sky-high. The early vote is explosive. Trump's rhetoric is apocalyptic. For all those reasons, and others, news outlets are treating this like a presidential election... with TV coverage to match. We'll get to that in a moment... But first, let's talk about what happened at Trump's midterm finale rally...

Hannity campaigns for Trump (after saying he wouldn't)

Oliver Darcy emails: Sean Hannity and Fox News said that he would not be campaigning for Trump. After the campaign put out a press release saying he'd be a "special guest," Hannity went as far as to tweet that he would be doing his show at the rally, but would "not be on stage campaigning with the president."

That proved not to be true. Hannity received a hero's welcome at the rally, shook hands, signed autographs, waved to fans, and hosted his show from a special stage near the main stage. When the president arrived, the two men chatted on live TV. After Hannity's show ended and "The Ingraham Angle" started, Trump called Hannity up to the stage, and Hannity obliged. The Fox host delivered brief remarks while insisting he had "no idea" this was going to happen. Weird, because the rest of us figured it would! 

 >> Fellow Fox host Jeanine Pirro also came up on stage...

 >> Fox News had no immediate comment on the apparent breach of standards...

Reality check

This collaboration is only surprising because Fox and Hannity said he wasn't campaigning. He's been campaigning for Trump for years. So Monday night just demonstrated what the Trump-Fox merger looks like... Per a WH pool report, former Fox News co-president turned WH deputy chief of staff for comms Bill Shine was seen high-fiving Hannity at the rally...

 >> Ana Marie Cox tweeted: "Watching Hannity and Judge Jeanine gushing about the Trump rally ('it's like a rock concert!') — there is nothing to distinguish this from a paid political ad, nothing. Except it might have better production values..."

Hannity insulted his own colleagues

"All those people in the back are fake news," Hannity said while standing at the presidential podium. In the back, in the press pen, were reporters and producers from all the major networks, including Fox. How do you think it felt for the Fox staffers, who were just trying to do their jobs, to be insulted by Fox's biggest star?

Trump also using Sinclair to get out of the vote

Earlier in the evening, Trump taped a brief interview with Scott Thuman of WJLA, Sinclair's DC affiliate. It was shown on Sinclair stations across the country. When Thuman asked him about regrets, POTUS said "I would say tone, I would like to have a much softer tone. I feel to a certain extent I have no choice, but maybe I do, and maybe I could've been softer from that standpoint…"

(Do you believe him?)

This is Drudge's Monday night banner

Have you voted yet?

Just wondering. Some journalists choose not to vote. Others have to cast absentee ballots because they'll be away from home on election night. Jamie and I will be meeting up at our precinct right after she gets off work on Tuesday... And then I'll be glued to my wall of TV sets the rest of the day...


Tuesday's coverage plans

The "Reliable Sources" team went back and reviewed previous midterm election nights. In 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014, the big broadcast networks usually scheduled one hour of prime time coverage. The time slot sometimes differed by time zone, but it was generally in the 10 p.m. hour. There were short cut-ins earlier in the evening, and live streams on the web, but that was it -- an hour of prime time.

This year is different. NBC, ABC and CBS will all be live from 8 til 11 p.m. The New York-based anchors will continue into the wee hours for the west coast. Coverage could continue even after 2 a.m. Eastern time.

And on cable, there really is no end. CNN will be live from DC until Thursday morning. The special broadcast begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Fox and MSNBC's specials start at 6. TVNewser has a comprehensive look at the coverage plans here... And I'll follow up with a special EARLY EDITION of this newsletter on Tuesday afternoon...


How many tweets?

Per the WH, the president "has no public events scheduled" on Tuesday. That means lots of executive time. What's the over-under for his # of tweets?


Expect the unexpected

That's the beauty of Tuesday. There WILL be surprises. Per Politico, WaPo national editor Steven Ginsberg has encouraged reporters and editors to "embrace not knowing" what will happen on election night...


Inside the rehearsals

The Politico story by Michael Calderone and Jason Schwartz also describes the behind-the-scenes preps for election night. Sam Feist's team at CNN "has rehearsed 16 scenarios of what might happen." Feist: "I have no idea what's going to happen," but "we're ready for every outcome..."


The magic walls are even more magical now

The NYT's Michael Grynbaum and John Koblin spoke with CNN's John King, MSNBC's Steve Kornacki and Fox's Bill Hemmer about their interactive election night screens... and recent tech upgrades. "Fleet fingers, and a mind for numbers, are essential..."


 -- Here is Chris Cillizza's list of the eight big questions for election day... (CNN)

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

 -- Oprah Winfrey's response to racist robocalls made in her name in Georgia: "Jesus don't like ugly..." (CNN)

Trump's ad: Too racist for TV

The Trump campaign tried to buy airtime for its anti-immigrant ad on CNN, Fox News, NBC, and MSNBC. (Maybe others too, but those are the networks we know about.) CNN declined to sell the airtime because, per a spokesman, "this ad is racist." But the other networks initially said yes. Fox News and Fox Business aired the ad a total of 14 times. But the ad reached a much bigger audience via NBC when it aired on "Sunday Night Football" on Sunday night. About 20 million viewers saw the ad. It also aired three times on MSNBC.

The backlash to the "Sunday Night Football" broadcast was immediate. On Monday morning, NBC said "we recognize the insensitive nature of the ad and have decided to cease airing it across our properties as soon as possible." Fox soon followed suit. Both networks cited "further review" of the ad, begging the question, what happened during the initial review?

As Erik Wemple wrote here, "Some U.S. broadcasters require several days to determine that a facially racist piece of video is racist. That's the lesson to be drawn..."


NBC's explanation

An NBC source told me that the ad was cleared by the broadcast network's standards and practices team. "We regret the decision that the ad ran at all," the source said, "and it will not air on any NBCUniversal property, locally or nationally." Fox News did not explain why it pulled the ad...

 >> Bill Carter tweeted: "Coverage of Trump's 'closing argument' will not be accurate unless it underscores that the ad he chose to best express that argument was deemed too racist for public consumption by all three cable news networks, including the one that pays daily fealty to him..."

 >> Matt Viser wrote: "The 2016 election confirmed that a potential president could run — and win — after stoking racism..."


What went wrong at Facebook?

Donie O'Sullivan emails: Facebook said the Trump spot broke its ad rules – which makes one wonder how it ran in the first place? The company said it was an error – one of quite a few challenges the company's new ad transparency initiative has faced. The decision to remove the ad does set an interesting precedent for 2020, however, and creates a new headache for Facebook. Expect a lot of "why did you remove this ad but not that ad" questions from campaigns, and the press! 

Questions for Fox...

Oliver Darcy emails: Fox News' decision to pull Trump's racist anti-immigrant raises an uncomfortable question for the network: How can it justify pulling the ad while simultaneously allowing its commentators and prime time opinion hosts to use some of the same rhetoric and scare tactics the advertisement used? Those who have watched Fox News in prime time over the last month know that the network has portrayed the group of migrants marching toward the US border as invaders and criminals. As Stelter noted in a prior article, Fox used the term "invasion" more than 100 times in its October coverage of the migrants -- the same language Trump used in his ad...


Fox News is not covering its decision...

One more item from Darcy: Do Fox News viewers know that the network rebuked the Trump campaign and announced Monday that it would no longer run its anti-immigrant ad? Probably not. I checked on TVEyes and could not find any on-air coverage of the matter other than a brief moment when the controversy surrounding the ad was invoked on "The Five." I also could not find an article on the Fox News website. Interesting how the company was ready to boast to other media outlets about how it was taking a stand against the Trump ad, but failed to even alert its own viewers. I wonder why that might be. 🤔


 -- John Avlon's latest: "It's all up to the independents..." (CNN)

 -- Steve Bannon will be hosting midterm night coverage on... The Gateway Pundit?! (Twitter)

 -- Megan Thomas emails: If our country's current politics aren't dark and cutting enough for you -- and you spent the weekend binging the final season of "House of Cards" -- the show's producers broke down its all-sorts-of-insane final episode here... (EW)

 -- One more from Megan: Barbra Streisand is undoubtedly singing to likeminded Democratic fans with her new album inspired by President Trump, but THR rated each track on "Walls" for its rhetorical anti-Trump response... (THR)

Tuesday's test for pollsters

The polling industry has a lot on the line heading into Tuesday. I mean, 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.

GOP pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson told me there's suspicion on the right AND the left: "I think Democrats may have felt let down by the polls but don't think it was an intentional error. I think many Republicans believe the polling errors of 2016 were intentional."

So can the industry regain trust? Well, there's been a whole lot of self-reflection in the polling world since 2016. Pollsters have tweaked their techniques; pundits have become more cautious when talking about polls; and news outlets have conducted some fascinating experiments. On Tuesday, all the efforts are being put to the test. Here's my full story...

Keep this in mind

Some key points from the story:

 -- In special elections since 2016, Democrats have repeatedly outperformed polls of their races. But past outcomes are not an indicator of future results...

 -- "I think many pollsters and forecasters have tried to be much more intentional about explaining uncertainty and being humble about what data can and can't tell us," Anderson said. "Because I think there was a big sense that in 2016, there was more certainty conveyed than may have been justified by the available data."

 -- The risks of turnout assumptions: The 2018 electorate is "a universe that doesn't exist yet," Democratic pollster Margie Omero said. "I mean, people don't know whether they're going to vote, some people..."

 -- Nate Cohn, who led the NYT's incredible live polling effort this fall: "It's almost a miracle how accurate polls usually are, given all the challenges..."

 -- Cohn's final pre-election story notes that "even modest late shifts among undecided voters or a slightly unexpected turnout could significantly affect results..."


Hacking isn't the only electronic threat on Tuesday

Donie O'Sullivan emails: If 2016 is anything to go by, the internet will be rife with misinformation on Tuesday... Some from well-intended, but confused voters, and some possibly from more nefarious actors...

From our story: "Much easier than hacking a voting system would be to claim a hack had occurred and then watch those claims go viral on social media. The perception of a hack could have the same effect on the integrity of election results as an actual hack."


Facebook removes more pages

Right before I hit "send" on this, Donie O'Sullivan reported: "Facebook took down a network of FB pages and Instagram accounts Monday night after a tip from US law enforcement.. The company removed 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts...."



Here's my look at how "fake news" has morphed and multiplied since 2016... 

Plus Ben Collins' peek inside secret chat rooms where Twitter trolls try to launch disinfo campaigns...

And Craig Silverman's look at how LinkedIn is "now home to hyperpartisan political content, false memes, and troll battles..."

And April Glaser's story about the "bustling cottage industry of Donald Trump fan pages on Facebook..." 

Fifty states, fifty stories

While Trump and others have tried to nationalize this election, there are so many fascinating and under-the-radar stories unfolding from east to west. Our resident South Dakotan Tom Kludt is following a potentially historic race in his home state...

Tom emails: Most eyes will understandably be on Florida, Montana, Texas and the various congressional districts that will determine control of the House...but keep an eye on South Dakota, where the gubernatorial race will be a photo finish. My home state hasn't elected a Democratic governor in 44 years. It's been more than 30 years since the race was even competitive. But this year, the state Dems put up their strongest candidate in decades: a 34-year-old former rodeo star turned state lawmaker named Billie Sutton. Most prognosticators expected Kristi Noem to win in a cakewalk, but it's been anything but. A poll Monday from Emerson found her in a virtual tie, with a negligible lead 48%-47% edge over Sutton...


 -- Amid some org changes at Verizon, the Oath name is going away, and "Verizon's collective media outlets will be called the Verizon Media Group starting in 2019..." (The Verge)

 -- AMC Networks is cutting staffers and overhauling its management structure... "Promoting BBC America chief Sarah Barnett to oversee" AMC, SundanceTV, BBC America and IFC... (Variety)

 -- World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee is talking about the need to "protect the internet." Here's what he told Laurie Segall at Web Summit in Lisbon... (CNN)

 -- How's the Facebook Local News Digital Subscriptions Accelerator going? Here's a look at the Denver Post and Minneapolis Star-Tribune... (AdExchanger)

 -- Debra Birnbaum is leaving Variety to become director of awards at Amazon... (Variety)

Election eve news-dump (of the worst kind)

Donie O'Sullivan emails: Facebook commissioned a report into how it contributed to a genocide in Myanmar... and released it on the eve of the US midterm elections.

Facebook says "the report concludes that, prior to this year, we weren't doing enough to help prevent our platform from being used to foment division and incite offline violence. We agree that we can and should do more." This looks like a terrible, cynical attempt at dumping this before a huge news day. And if it isn't, Facebook should have known that it would look like that...

Kanye's surprising Chicago endorsement 

"Kanye West, who recently announced on Twitter that he would be backing away from politics, wasn't able to stay away for long—but this time, he's actually making choices instead of throwing bombs," VF's Erika Harwood reports. "West has donated $126,460 to Democratic mayoral candidate Amara Enyia in his hometown of Chicago, just one week after he gave $73,540 to her campaign and attended a rally for her on the South Side of Chicago alongside Chance the Rapper..."

"Wheel" and "Jeopardy!" are renewed 

"The ABC Owned Television Stations group has renewed the syndicated game shows 'Wheel of Fortune' and 'Jeopardy' through the 2022-23 television season. The shows have aired on ABC-owned stations for decades, but the renewal process became more lively for CBS Television Distribution this time around because the Fox Television Stations group mounted a huge rival offer for the early evening stalwarts away in top markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago," Variety's Cynthia Littleton reports...

CBS dismisses "Fam" co-showrunner

"Bob Kushell — co-showrunner of CBS' Nina Dobrev-led midseason comedy Fam — has been fired for misconduct," TVLine's Michael Ausiello scooped on Monday.

From his story: "A CBS rep declined to comment, but an insider tells TVLine that Kushell was let go for using "inappropriate language in the workplace." Fam creator/co-showrunner Corinne Kingsbury will now serve as the sitcom's sole showrunner..."

Lowry's take on "The Walking Dead" universe plans

Brian Lowry emails: AMC unveiled its ambitious expansion plans for "The Walking Dead" late Sunday, which didn't provide much time to digest them. In the light of day, the network must know something that isn't readily apparent from the outside, essentially tripling down on a franchise that has seen its ratings decline sharply over the last two seasons. Spinoffs and movies offer the prospect of new revenue streams -- witness "The X-Files" movies -- but they also risk further diluting the flagship show, at a moment when the network is still fiddling creatively with "Fear the Walking Dead." Establishing a "Walking Dead" universe, in that context, sounds like a lot to ask from a program in its ninth season...

Another "critic-proof" movie?

Lowry adds: The big opening for "Bohemian Rhapsody" on the heels of "Venom" has triggered another round of pieces -- including the Guardian and THR -- citing "critic-proof" movies and the perceived disconnect between critics and the audience. What that misses, again, is how the want-to-see factor doesn't always have a whole lot to do with how well a concept is executed. The notion that filmgoers are "ignoring critics" also assumes that bad reviews are trying to dissuade people from seeing a movie, which isn¹t necessarily the same thing as saying that it's disappointing...


By Lisa Respers France:

 -- The Spice Girls have announced a reunion tour -- minus one. Here's who's missing...

 -- Rihanna wants Trump to stop the music. Add the singer to a growing list of artists not pleased that their tunes are being played at Trump rallies...

 -- Pamela Anderson slammed the #MeToo movement during an interview with Australia's "60 Minutes..."


Catch up on the show

Watch the video clips on CNN.com... listen to the podcast via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or TuneIn... or catch the full program through CNNgo or VOD...

Notes and quotes

 -- Margie Omero and Harry Enten spoke with me about the ups and downs of polling... Watch...

 -- David Zurawik said "there's a political strategy of lying and lying" until it becomes normalized. "At some point, if we in the press become exhausted, he wins..." He being Trump...

 -- Eliana Johnson said "I think the president has raised the stakes of this election for himself" by being such an aggressive campaigner...

 -- The Toronto Star's Trump-checker, Daniel Dale, said Trump is "making stuff up in the last couple weeks in a way that I don't think we've seen from a serial liar, the president, before..." 


Soros rep says he can't get booked on Fox

On Sunday's "Reliable," the president of the George Soros-founded Open Society Foundations, Patrick Gaspard, said he's been trying to get booked on Fox News to rebut the network's constant anti-Soros smears -- but they "refuse to have us on." Read Jackie Wattles' story/watch the segment here...

That's a wrap on today's newsletter... Email me feedback anytime... Your comments help make the newsletter better...
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