It’s 11:13 p.m. Tuesday night. There are a slew of political primaries taking place around the country.
And where is CNN?
Slate‘s chief political correspondent and CBS contributor John Dickerson said on Twitter: “On CNN it’s like there aren’t elections tongiht.” And Politics Daily Columnist and Mother Jones Bureau Chief David Corn remarked: “CNN, I like Ed Markey, but would rather hear Blanche Lincoln now. You’re the Best…what on TV?”
CNN’s absence perplexed D.C. journalists late Tuesday night. As elections results were rolling in, CNN’s Anderson Cooper was interviewing Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on the situation in the Gulf with an oil plume in the background. Meanwhile, FNC and MSNBC were fixated on the elections throughout the evening with special live coverage. FNC had anchor Bret Baier at the helm. MSNBC had special late night appearances by hosts Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews. Maddows went live at 11 p.m.; Matthews appeared live at midnight.
Also at midnight, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did a special “Larry King Live” program on election results already covered by the other networks.
CNN staff covered the elections online during those hours, just not on air. From Blitzer: “I’m getting ready to anchor a one-hour special Larry King Live at midnight ET on all the election results. Get ready!” he tweeted.
Mark Preston, CNN’s newly promoted senior political editor, was on top of the results. “Meg Whitman wins in Calif. and faces Jerry Brown in November in the battle to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,” he said on Twitter. And Sam Feist, CNN’s V.P. of D.C.-based programming, remarked around the same time as Preston, tweeting, “Looks like Whitman and Fiorina headed for big victories in California GOP primaries. Full results: http://on.cnn.com/ayjGCR.”
CNN’s decision on Wednesday political and oil spill coverage was strategic.
From a CNN Spokesperson: “Not only do we cover politics, we’re committed to the oil spill disaster which has affected so many lives. Anderson’s program last night included interviews with survivors from the oil rig explosion. That’s an important story. In addition, during the 10p and 11p (ET) hours CNN had live election updates from Wolf Blitzer. He also hosted an hour-long live special at midnight (ET) as west coast results were coming in.”
> Update: For a clip of Cooper’s program Tuesday night with interviews of survivors of the oil spill, watch here.