Given the hallucinatory nature of this presidential campaign, my network of choice for live election coverage tonight is Comedy Central.
Let ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC, Bloomberg TV, CNN, CNN en Español, CNBC, C-Span, Current TV, Univision, and BET dazzle viewers with their mathematical projections and technological hardware. (Remember when CNN beamed up Wolf Blitzer as a hologram in ’08? Yikes.)
All that phony-baloney gives me a pain. That is why, for the first time in my adult life, I’m skipping traditional TV coverage altogether on election night. Instead, I’ll be tuning into Comedy Central at 11. Bottom line, you’ve got to respect a network whose phoniness is real.
The Daily Show’s special coverage, “Election Night 2012: This Ends Now,” will feature made-up numbers and faux analysis from host Jon Stewart and “The Best F#@king News Team Ever.” They will report directly from Obama and Romney headquarters, conveniently located on the show’s set.
Like the jealous sibling he is, Stephen Colbert has a longer title for tonight’s Colbert Report coverage: “Election 2012: A Nation Votes, Ohio Decides; The Re-Presidenting of America: Who Will Replace Obama? ‘012!” Guest Andrew Sullivan will serve as the token adult.
This will be the second live election night tandem telecast for Daily Show and Colbert Report, following “Indecision 2008: America’s Choice.” If luck holds, it will be turbo-charged. No pre-taping to bleep out naughty words.
When it comes to credibility, Stewart and Colbert never let the facts get in the way of a good story. So what? They couldn’t do worse than the networks did in 2000, trying to call, then uncall, then call, then uncall Bush-Gore. As NBC’s Tom Brokaw famously said at the time: “We don’t just have egg on our face. We have an omelet.”
More recently, it hasn’t been a great year for conventional TV news outlets, either.
Just last week, during Superstorm Sandy, CNN repeated a false rumor that the New York Stock Exchange had flooded. In September, ABC suggested—wrongly—a link between Colorado mass shooting suspect James Holmes and the Tea Party. In June, CNN and Fox News both reported—wrongly—that the Supreme Court had struck down the individual mandate of Obamacare.
That’s a lot of omelets, especially for organizations with serious resources and expertise. At least with Stewart and Colbert, you know they’re trying to crack the eggs.
So tonight, as Brian and Diane and Scott and Rachel et al drone on about who will win the presidency and What It All Means, I will be blissfully disengaged—untethered, unplugged and uninterested.
Instead of holding my emotions prisoner to minute-by-minute updates—which may or may not be accurate—I will wait until all the votes are in before allowing myself to feel suicidal or ecstatic.
In the meantime, I’ll laugh myself silly, at least for an hour, watching master chefs Stewart and Colbert create their political soufflés.