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Last Night’s Media Low Point

[ 99 ] November 7, 2012 |

Well, there’s probably a lot of media low points.

But at least twice, John King (URI grad as is, oddly, Christiane Amanpour) tried to delegitimize Obama’s victory by switching from his state map to a county map to show how red huge spaces of this country are. This is a sophisticated, technology-forward way of saying that a victory only counts if you win rural white men. Please tell me what I am supposed to learn by a county map. All of western Nebraska probably has less than 100,000 people. All of Wyoming has less than 500,000 people. New York City has 8 million people. But somehow because those gigantic western counties with 1000 residents take up a big chunk of the map, they have extra legitimacy?


Comments (99)

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  1. rea says:

    Why this lack of respect for Bovine-Americans?

    • DrDick says:

      You seem to have met some of our Montana Republicans. I have long suspected that the fact that there are more prairie dogs than people in much of eastern Montana is reflected in the voting patterns there.

  2. Steve LaBonne says:

    Well, duh, you already answered your own question. Those are the counties where Real Americans (TM) live.

  3. Cody says:

    Your vote should only be worth as much land as you own.

    I don’t know why we got away from only land-owners being able to vote at all! Explains what ruined America.

  4. Holden Pattern says:

    One Acre, One Vote.

  5. Sharculese says:

    My mom called me early last night as the results were coming in, and talking to her about coverage one of the things I realized was that I was thankful that because my house doesn’t have cable we weren’t going to be subjected to John King.

    Granted I still had to watch NBC kill time by letting Tom Brokaw meander through the museum of his mind, so you win some, you lose some.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      I did hear that Brokaw was wearing an impressively ridiculous tie, but then I never flipped over to check.

    • Steve LaBonne says:

      No TV on at my house, just Daily Kos. So I was much better informed, much sooner, than the TV audience. As a result I slept at a reasonable hour and well.

    • Cody says:

      But Tom Brokaw is cool! He talked about how we need to have nationwide election officials instead of state level.

      Then Brian Williams had a super awkward conversation about pot heads with the governor of Colorado.

      “Yeah man, when you go to Boulder they’re everywhere!”

      “It’s like that in major college towns in the East Coast too!”

      • catclub says:

        “But Tom Brokaw is cool! He talked about how we need to have nationwide election officials instead of state level.”

        Did he mention the national ID that every wingnut will fearmonger about if such a thing came to pass? What army does he propose to implement these over the heads of states rights spouting governors and statehouses?

        Maybe a constitutional amendment? ;)

      • John says:

        Brian Williams was hilarious last night.

    • wengler says:

      I had MSNBC on the TV and BBC on the computer.

      BBC engaged in a lot of CNN-style graphicky gimmicks, but at least they didn’t think the exit polls were too precious or misleading to embargo, so they threw out some relevant stats right at the beginning of the night.

  6. somethingblue says:

    This is a sophisticated, technology-forward way of saying that a victory only counts if you win rural white men.

    And sagebrush. And varmints.

    Although I’m surprised Mitt’s share of the varmint vote was so high.

  7. parrot says:

    it’s not about the white vote … it’s about those places where a man can look out on the vast horizon and go kill critters when those sexual urges beckon …

  8. patrick II says:

    I almost threw up when King had up his mostly red map and told Wolf that this was still a center right nation. He thinks we are voting by area now.

  9. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    Come on, Erik! You can’t have Blut und Boden without the Boden!

  10. I think it was a tie between everyone marveling at long lines in Florida and Ohio without mentioning the deliberate and conscious decisions made by those state governments to make those lines longer than they had to be, and Shields and Brooks immediately (like, the clause after saying Obama ran a good campaign) saying how imperative it is that taxes and Social Security be cut in order to avert the fiscal cliff.

    The high point was MT governor Brian Schweitzer’s amazing technicolor dream bolo tie.

  11. dan says:

    Long before Ohio was called, it was clear that, regardless of the results of the electoral college, Obama would win the popular vote once the West Coast was counted. Nothing about this on the news, of course, and then once Ohio was called I saw a lot of complaining on Twitter about Obama winning even though he was losing the popular vote at that precise moment. Once people realized that Californians, Wasingtonians and Oregonians are entitled to have their votes counted, those people complaining about the popular vote not matching the electoral vote shut up. Quickly.

    • Paul Orwin says:

      I believe the phrase you are looking for is “f*ing time zones, how do they work?”

    • Craigo says:

      There was a LOT of that. Donald Trump especially.

      Somehow I doubt they were complaining twelve years ago.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      Scott Pelley (sp?) on CBS was harping on Obama much of the night for trailing in the popular vote count by a million votes every 5 minutes or so, as if to make sure all the Romnoids kept tuning in or stayed angry, one or the other. I had to keep reassuring my girlfriend that Obama was going to take the lead eventually…which of course he did.

  12. Amon says:

    This is why the only presidential-election map anyone should consult is the one at Sam Wang’s site. The size of each state has been reconfigured to reflect its share of the electoral vote. The result is a nice portrait of America’s demographic reality.

  13. Mudge says:

    I have always been a fan of Cherry County, Nebraska. Roughly 6000 square miles (larger than RI or CT) and roughly 6000 people. Occupies a map, but has fewer people than some high schools.

    • blowback says:

      Shit, here in the UK we have single HMOs in the agricultural areas around King’s Lynn with a greater population than Cherry County, Nebraska!

      • The Dark Avenger says:

        6000, eh? Howbout a county with a population in the 3-digit range?:

        Kenedy County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. It is part of the Kingsville Micropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, its population was 416.[1] Its seat is Sarita[2], and the county is named for Mifflin Kenedy, an early rancher in the area. Kenedy County has the distinction of having the fourth-lowest population of any county in the United States, following Loving County, Texas, Kalawao County, Hawaii, and King County, Texas. It is also the easternmost and southernmost county in the United States that has more square miles than people.[3] The county was created in 1921 from parts of Hidalgo and Willacy counties. In 1999, Hurricane Bret struck the county, but damage was minimal due to the county’s low population. The Peñascal Wind Power Project was built near Sarita in the early 21st Century and is expected to slightly raise the population of the area.

        The King Ranch covers a large part of the county. [1]

  14. Bob Stanley says:

    Last time I checked 80% of Americans live in “urban areas” according the census.

  15. Fighting Words says:

    Thank you for brining this up. The issue of showing county maps for states was something that really bothered me.

  16. ChesterS says:

    I watched CBS which was pleasantly low-key but it was very annoying when their people in the field would often talk about “Governor Romney”, “President Clinton” but then refer to “Mister Obama.”

    Gee, I wonder what the difference could be?

    • elm says:

      I also watched CBS most of the night for it’s genial blandness. They did a few interviews with campaign staffers, but they did not have a panel of partisans spinning and yelling, which was refreshing. Pelley et al had some annoying tics as you and someone else mentioned above, but it was mostly harmless.

      I switched over to NBC occassionally, as Williams and Todd were both pretty good, but every time Brokaw spoke I had to switch away.

      Then I switched to Fox News after the win was declared for the schadenfreude.

  17. Chatham says:

    DC has more people than Wyoming (and soon more than Vermont) yet still lacks any congressional representation.

  18. raging red says:

    As my brother put it on Facebook last night:

    “I know you’re looking at the map and seeing a lot of red across the country. That’s all just open fields, chicken shacks, and Bob Evans restaurants. If we filled the empty space in with smiley faces where nobody was livin’ you’d see a lot of smiley faces.”

  19. LFC says:

    If you think that was last night’s media low point, you can’t have been watching the PBS NewsHour which was (rather uncharacteristically, I must say) bad — they were all acting like drunks a good part of the time, e.g. Brooks joking that Shields was “rain man” b/c of his supposed adding and subtracting ability. Or CBS, which I watched (on computer) for c.10 minutes. Awful.

    I’m not sure there’s anything hugely wrong w showing a county map, as long as you also show a state map and don’t put in silly editorial comments about ‘center-rt nation’. Most people realize that w. Nebraska is much less densely populated than Brooklyn. Of course a demographically-scaled map, as described by one commenter above, is probably best.

    • sharculese says:

      Every time someone suggested changing it to PBS I was like, “No, I will put up with a lot of shit, but I will not put up with hearing what David Brooks has to say.”

      I feel I made the right call.

  20. LFC says:

    CBS was so “low-key” that Shieffer appeared to be on the point of dozing off, at least for the 10 mins I watched.

    • John says:

      One thing I learned last night, where the TV was on CBS for the first half of the night for some reason, is that someone named Scott Pelley is not the CBS Nightly News anchor. When did that happen? I was watching him for several hours before realizing that I had no idea who he was.

    • elm says:

      I swear, Schieffer did in fact fall asleep mid-sentence once. Even then, though, he was more coherent than whatever Brokaw was spewing.

  21. gocart mozart says:

    One acre, one vote.

  22. Wido Incognitus says:

    1. Tom Brokaw did the same thing in 2008.
    2. It shows that Obama’s victory and the success of the Democratic Party is winning the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections is geographically polarized.
    2a. The far-right in the US is probably just talk, and if they actually act on their gibberish they will wind up exposed as the sacks of bloated incompetence that the South African far-right was exposed as in the 1990s. However, I would not ASSUME that.
    3. Nationalist mystification is good for you in small doses. There is value in attempting to discover true American-ness in a way that is less influenced by other countries or by diversity itself (although diversity itself may actually be part of the nationalist mystification of the United States).

    • Reilly says:

      Tom Brokaw did the same thing in 2008.

      Yes he did. Held up a county map and ogled at the redness of it then declared us a center-right nation. Takes a special kind of brain-fish to convert the actual measure (votes) into a representation of land area and then stand in awe of the latter as if it imparted more information than the former.

    • Halloween Jack says:

      I myself saw it in 2004. Remember the “United States of Canada/Jesusland” map? Some yahoo redid it as a county map to show these little islands of blue in a sea of red, without noting that the “islands” often represented cities with millions of inhabitants.

  23. kerry says:

    Related: this is what always drives me bonkers about the argument that candidates would just campaign in cities and ignore rural voters if we abolished the electoral college and went to straight popular vote. And the problem with that is? Why are rural voters more important than urban voters? (Yeah, I know: Real, white, etc.) Someone is always going to get ignored – there’s no way presidential candidates can reach everyone. Right now it’s everyone in non-swing states, now matter which side there on. Better to at least structure the system so that candidates’ attention is spread more evenly and can reach the most people.

  24. Murc says:

    Please tell me what I am supposed to learn by a county map.

    To play devil’s advocate, a county-by-county breakdown can be useful, especially ones that are shown on a per-election basis over time.

    Voting patterns are important; the geographic disparities let you start asking important questions, like ‘Why are all these people dependent on subsidies and a robust regulatory state voting for people who campaign explicitly on kicking the shit out of them? Are they that altruistic, or are there other factors at work? What are the cultural differences between these high-population but geographically small areas and geographically large but low-population areas?’

    There are also informative discussions to be had about cities and the relationships they have with their surrounding geography, and if the people living in both regard each other as friends with common interests whose livelihoods and well-being are regionally intertwined, or as bitter enemies and cultural Others.

    Having said all that, I seriously doubt John King was having those discussions. In any way, shape, or form.

  25. Kurzleg says:

    I like the way state size is apportioned according to electoral votes and thereby (presumably) by population on this map. Much truer reflection of reality.

  26. Doshaburi says:

    Yes, on CBS at the moment they called it for Obama, Bob Schieffer said how Obama’s losing the PV (as if that were the result) would cripple him or some nonsense. It took me 5 seconds to google that Cali would be netting Obama 3 million votes. But seriously, retire these guys.

  27. In Norway, there’s actually a slight modifier to the constitiuent areas that take the geographical size into account:

    As a Swede I regard this as typically Norwegian.

  28. djangermous says:

    Hooray for having a senate and a presidential electoral system that systematically privileges the residents of depopulated backwater hellholes!

  29. mpowell says:

    One thing that pissed me off was Barbara Walters chortling at the idea that election monitors from the EU would come to observe our elections. As if! All the while people are waiting in long lines in FL and OH as part of a plot by the Republicans to discourage turnout among Democratic voters. The picture of a completely self-absorbed and vacuous media elite could not be more perfect than in that moment.

  30. calling all toasters says:

    Soybeans are people, my friend.

  31. Peter VE says:

    I look forward to my purchase of the County of Providence, with its Hereditary Electorship for the final approval of the next Emperor of America.

  32. Cathleen says:

    My page … (Cathleen)

  33. […] simply irrelevant that Sanders won 50 of New York’s 62 counties. Indeed that echoes the quadrennial lament that most of the nation’s counties voted for the (losing) Republican … as if the few voters who live amidst vast tracts of farmland, forests, and mountains […]

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