Paul Casserly 's Opinion

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: Channel surfing for democracy

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TV Blogger Paul Casserly sat down with his remote control to watch the US Election Coverage, here’s how it all unfolded.

Minneapolis Mayor Rybak goes crowd surfing with his mother Loraine, after it was announced that President Barack Obama had won re-election. Photo / AP
Minneapolis Mayor Rybak goes crowd surfing with his mother Loraine, after it was announced that President Barack Obama had won re-election. Photo / AP

2.30pm: "What are you seeing?" That's what Wolf Blizter kept asking CNN reporters spread around the country.

I was seeing some fancy pants production: flashing lights, ticking tape, numbers, graphs. CNN even had the Empire State building wired up with red and blue lights that crept up as the vote came in. By the end of the show the blue column touched the sky.

In the meantime CNN's John King touched his touch screen, while the Russian channel RT (Sky 96) seemed to be staffed by hipster first year students from Otago University.

Someone said: "Latino's are 17 per cent of the US pop, but they only have 3 per cent of the senators."

3pm: Fox News - Wow this is weird, it's early but they seem to have conceded already. Grim faced commentators began the blame game.

"It's the mainstream media" said someone called Tucker, not realising that the most watched news network is both mainstream and media. The poor sap looked to be on the edge of tears.

"The Republican party needs to take a long hard look at itself", he bleated, other pollsters piped in with figures that showed that married women liked Romney while single women voted for Obama.

"They hit abortion hard" said another, seemingly stunned that woman voters would allow Mitt to fiddle with their bits. A guy with colourful suspenders muttered about "single women". Married women vote Romney because "they have to deal with household budget."

Clearly solo mums don't exist here.

Karl Rove sat there stroking his nice new MacBook Air.

3.40pm: CNN - "It was literally neck and neck in Florida," in the American sense of literally.

ABC - (On Sky News) had Diane Sawyer, who looked ready for a drink and clear-eyed, former Clinton man, George Stephanopoulos. The mood was buoyant.

They crossed to the Republican HQ, the people there were worried about Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The room was subdued. Diane sounded tipsy.

Back on CNN someone said the words "voracious for that local granular information." John King touched his touch screen dialling up some impressively granular information. He nearly said "the guy at number 26 is voting Obama but his cat is trending Romney."

I had questions. When can I go to the toilet? How old is Wolf Blitzer? Why are hot right wing women hotter than hot left wing women?

The BBC was running a relatively low-fi affair. As Dennis Pennis once said, it was so wooden "I thought someone had thrown a chair into the room."

I was glued to my seat.

4pm: TV3 joined the party.

How old is Guyon Espinor I wondered? As you'd expect the graphics were more budget. It was quiet. The panel had two affable Americans, Tracey Barnet and Professor Ted Zorn. Both were good talent and helped with some context for NZ viewers but I was feeling graphical underload. I craved the fast moving results that flashed on the American versions.

Meanwhile on Fox News, chief fox, Meghan, was heading the pre-wake wake. This time the panel chewed over the rising tide of non white Americans. "This will be the last time we'll be able to run a campaign like this" said someone. The subtext seemed to be that they'll have to kiss some serious Latino butt to win next time, and possibly be nice to the blacks.

4.10pm: Sarah Palin was beamed in from Alaska and sat beside a fire. Greta Van Susteren asked her questions. She was glum, and blaming the Bain Capital ads in Ohio, "a catastrophic set-back" "more debt" she blathered about a "blueprint set down by the founding fathers." But as ever she made little sense, saying that voting is "a sacred trust", but things "unfold as they should." Before finishing with a staple, "we should be drilling and mining our natural resources"

She looked about 52.

Someone said: "Whoever won Ohio has won every election since 1964."

4.15pm: CNN had former Clinton man James Carville, the ragin' Cajun, who as usual was speaking nothing but sense. "It ain't that close. He's gonna take Florida and take the election." It was time for the Republicans to take a hard look at themselves he said, "somebody in the Republican party is going to have to break them out of the tea party and that talkback radio bellicose BS."

4.22pm: Fox News - Karl Rove seemed optimistic. He wasn't ready to concede defeat. He touched his MacBook Air.

4.25pm: TV3 left the panel and crossed Live to Patrick Gower who was touching his ear in a noisy Obama HQ in Chicago, "the atmosphere here is electric, like an All Blacks test match."

4.30pm: TV1 finally joined the party. There was Simon Dallow, Jon Johanson, and Tim Wilson who was disguised as Sigmund Freud. Johanson rattled off states and stats and said, "Romney's paths are closing and narrowing, if it was his arteries he'd be in trouble."

Jack Tame, who must be 18 by now, was at Romeny's HQ in Boston. It looked pretty quiet there. It occurred to me he has a great job and that his haircut is not unlike Patrick Gower's. I think he said "The proof is in the pudding."

Like TV3 it's good solid stuff, but these are just New Zealanders, I needed the hard stuff. I need graphics.

4.40pm: ABC - Sawyer was definitely drunk now, possibly mixed with pills.

Her panel were also talking race: "The divided nature of the country ... Romney is doing better with white voters but the country is less white." Said someone.

"If in 2220 a candidate gets the same percentage of votes that McCain got he will lose by 14 million popular votes."

They then revealed that at one point the Obama campaign added a ! to their "Forward" slogan. it used to be "Forward." but now it's "Forward!"

4.45pm: ABC reports high fives in the back rooms at the Obama camp in Chicago.

4.50pm: TV3 was in a pub in Wellington, talking to an American, "I think Obama's doing the right thing."

4.51pm: TV1 crossed to the same pub where Jessica Mutch had bailed up the US Ambassador, a red haired gent, who looks about 45. "I voted four weeks ago." He didn't have much to say but seemed happy, "there's an open bar and plenty of food."

5pm: CNN - "Does anything change?" asked Anderson Cooper, in relation to dealing with the fiscal cliff, "No nothing changes." Then the Republican guy on the panel said "I'm going for the hemlock." Wolf said, "They're dancing in Chicago."

On TV1 the viewers poll revealed that 96 per cent of the idiots who reply to these things would vote for for Obama and four per cent for Mitt Romney.

5.16pm: CNN projected Obama as winner

5.17pm: TV1 Simon Dallow: "Hang on Obama has just tweeted something, 'Four more years,' who does he think he is, George Gregan?" Sainsbury had joined the team to relive his election memories, he was there in 2000 and 2004, he recalled the election when he stayed up the entire night at Christopher Hitchen's house.

5.25pm: Fox News - "I think the best campaign wins, they knew where their voters were and how to reach them."

They then called Ohio for Obama.

Chris Wallace chipped in with a question about the Ohio call. "The Romney camp have their doubts." Karl Rove, also had his doubts ... "I don't believe that Ohio is settled".

Meghan went to the back room to ask the guys who made the call to explain, which they did rather well. Strangely it was one of the better moments of the whole thing, the boffins were 99.9 per cent certain but Karl Rove wasn't buying it.

5.30pm: SKY news had the split screen with dancing twenty-somethings in Chicago and glum old men and pretty blonds in Boston barely moving a muscle.

TV1 - Jack Tame was handing out advice to the Romney campaign, "they need to take a long hard look at themselves."

TV3 had Obama's tweet with the picture of Barack hugging Michelle.

5.35pm: CNN - Someone said : "This does make it a little more difficult for Hillary Clinton."

Then James Carville said, "This is going to be fodder for political scientists for a long time to come."

5.40pm: CNN - "Romney Campaign not prepared to concede."

5.45pm: Fox News - Sour-faced, right wing cadaver, Dr Charles Krauthammer, was brought in to join the celebration. "Obama won but has no mandate." Obama won by "being negative ... he's a man of the left, the country will slide." But for once the most miserable man on TV cracked a gag: "If that sounds depressing, as a psychiatrist I offer to write a prescription for anyone watching, just write me at Fox News."

5.51pm: On TV3 Guyon asked, "Is this is good news for John Key and his Cabinet?" Yes, said Tracey Barnet, "It means they don't have to meet a new team and make new contacts."

5.55pm: Fox News - "We like to call this cage match 2012", said Meghan as she introduced Karl Rove who was back to quibble with numbers with the crunchers but he was pissing in the wind. "I'm just raising a cautionary note." Later Wolf Blitzer and the CNN graphics department made it so clear that even I could understand what Karl seemingly couldn't.

CNN - James Carville: "The republican party is going to have to reassess itself, the tea party has cost them, they have a problem they can't live with them and they can't live without them."

6.20pm: On ABC Diane Sawyer is 12 sheets to the wind now, I reckon she's busting for the loo. She talked about her grandfathers love of "gourds".

CNN - "This is a wakeup call for the Republican party." (Obviously they too have been listening to Jack Tame.)

BBC - The elderly host mistakenly called Mitt Romney, George Romney, who was of course Mitt's dad. He soon realised his mistake, "I remember George Romney well."

6.40pm: Fox News - Bad loser Karl Rove was banging on about Obama being small, and running a negative campaign, "He's won the battle but he may have lost the war." He folded up his MacBook Air.

6.50pm: CNN - Candy said: "The phone call has been made and the motorcade has taken off."

John King's Blackberry told him that Romney had called Obama to concede. "The conversation was short and polite."

6.54pm: Mitt concedes. Very Graceful.

6.53pm: I googled Wolf Blizter's age, he's 64.

7.30pm: Obama looked like the most relieved man in history.

Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

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