CBS may have been breathing a sigh of relief sometime around 1am this morning. It seems Katie Couric interrupted programming around 8pm in order to call Indiana for Hillary Clinton, a full five hours before anyone else was willing to draw the same conclusion. Considering the margin between the Obama and Clinton continued to dwindle throughout the night (she eventually took the state by less than 2% or 23,000 votes) one wonders if CBS had some sort of advanced knowledge of the outcome none of the other networks were privy to. According to Michael Calderone over at Politico CBS isn’t saying…yet.
Had Indiana make a late break for Obama it wouldn’t have been the first time the networks had called the results prematurely. Most will remember back in 2000 all three of the networks made the mistake of calling the presidential election before the Florida votes were counted (as did some newpapers — I happen to own a copy of the NYPost declaring Bush the winner). It was a mistake all of them worked hard not to repeat in 2004.
Perhaps the most famous incidence of a news organization jumping the gun was in 1948 when the Chicago Tribune ran the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” even though Truman had actually won the election late in the night.
UPDATE: CBS’s statement to FishbowlDC.
*Thanks to “ninety-nine” at Young Manhattanite for the photo.