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Behind the Scenes on Election Night At CNN

We have a pretty good idea where you guys went to watch the election results come in. And while we desperately wanted to drink as well, we got an invite we just couldn’t refuse: the Crossfire Control Room at CNN.

Sam FeistUpon arriving at the First Street NE bureau we bumped into Sam Feist, DC Bureau Chief. He ushered us into his office where we peered over his shoulder at some early election results. “This is strictly off the record, of course.” Of course.  An excited Feist launched in to an explanation of how off year election coverage differs from a general election just as CNNPolitics.com editor Bryan Monroe walked in.  Monroe grabbed a handful of Jelly Bellies from a crystal bowl before assuring Feist that CNN.com’s election interactive was primed with the first round of voter data.

Soon we were off to the control room, where Crossfire Supervising Producer David Chalian was covering for EP Rebecca Kutler.  As we watched on what seemed like hundreds of screens, Van Jones and Newt Gingrich argued amicably, and the normally sedate Donna Brazile laced into the Tea Party with uncharacteristic zeal. Digital producer Eric Weisbrod sat quietly in the front, headset on, watching the screens intently. A nod to new CNN Chief Jeff Zucker’s digital focus?  controlroom

The show wrapped to light applause, and the crowded control room emptied quickly as people scrambled to get dinner –they all had to be back for an 11:30 post-election live hour with Newt and Van. The stars of the show were in a similar mindset. We caught up with them in the hallway as Van called out, “Hey Newt, isn’t there supposed to be free food around here?” Mr. Speaker shrugged, “I think it’s on floor 9?”

In the elevator ride down, Newt, with professorial ease, opined about the state of the California Republican party. Of a Crossfire guest who shall remain nameless he said, “I’m not sure _____ is too comfortable talking about that stuff.” Newt, of course, is comfortable talking about everything. Van was upbeat, even though he just came in from California, where he spends half his time overseeing four non-profits. So upbeat in fact, that he agreed to sit down with FishbowlDC for a quick chat –after his tacos of course. More on that convo to come…

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