CNN Election Coverage Analysis: John King Works to Bolster His Magic Wall

On Election Night, CNN dispatched its spirited primetime anchors to host shows in daytime and late-night, and reserved 7 p.m. on for analysis, analysis, analysis.

John King emerged as an early and heavy presence on CNN, working his regular shift at the network’s signature “Magic Wall,” but this year, he is armed with caveats. Nearly every other phrase out of King’s mouth this year is one urging viewers to be patient, using phrases like “this is early,” “I just want to caution you,” “if it holds,” and “we will check back later in the night.”

Part of that is a feature of this year’s Election Night preparation at CNN. The network, like many of its rivals, wants to make sure viewers understand where the vote is heading and why, using graphics representing how many votes were cast early, how many are left to come in, and more – even down to the county level. “An important message for our audience, and we will repeat it all night, is that just because it’s taking longer to project the winner in these elections doesn’t mean that anything is wrong,” Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington Bureau chief, told Variety in a recent interview. 

In some cases, King’s deliberate manner is prompting him to push back on Wolf Blitzer, who has been informing viewers about “key race alerts,” or developments in voting in individual states. And yet, at other times Blitzer is asking King to explain to viewers things like why Florida is so important and whether Democratic challenger Joe Biden is performing well in individual counties there.

More to come…

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