Tuesday, November 10, 2020


If I could have a writer’s wish, it would be that I had composed the Gail Collins’ column in the NY Times of November 4. It struck just the right notes of wisdom and humor. It is but a Google search away and I commend it to you. Closer to the home front: I started writing the day before Ms Collins’ article was printed and my darkness and pessimism permeated almost everything I put to paper.

How could it not? Take yourself back to the night of November 3, the very evening of the election, when a great deal was in doubt. Both Donald Trump and I thought he had won. Truth to tell, I found the Democratic campaign wanting almost from the get/go. I hated what I was seeing and believed that once again the Dem’s candidate was in the hands of folks whose strength was that they wrote good concession speeches. They were, as we were to discover, smarter and more disciplined than I knew. They fought the fights they needed to, and--turns out--they fought them well.

I wear the mantle of TV maven and Donald Trump is good TV. I also think of myself as a political animal, but my education in that arena predates social media, cable TV, and a 24/7 news cycle.

Viewing the field from my limited perspective, my bet was that Trump was going to win. MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki droned on in the background as I delved into the first draft of this column.  But what really could I have known? I am a Floridian. My state’s electoral votes were supposedly “in play,” and crucial to the election. Not really. Turns out Florida was in no way essential to a Biden victory. The Biden camp knew this and did not even flinch when Miami-Dade failed to come through for the Democrats. 

I bought into MSNBC’s lust for turning Texas blue… or at the very least… purple. Did not happen. Not even close. The Biden corps nodded their assent but continued to concentrate on rebuilding the middle western “wall” that would stand with or without the predicted “blue wave.”

And what about that forecasted tsunami? The pollsters must have been watching the same cable news shows as I. Everyone seemed to focus on what was happening with Susan Collins in Maine (with its modest electoral college count). The pundits purred over the possibility that Lindsey Graham was going to have to pay for his sycophantic behavior, as if exposing hypocrisy in those who govern even matters.

Rachel Maddow loved running the Lincoln Project’s very stylish anti-Trump TV ads, forgetting the political maxim that people vote FOR something/not against. The Trump base proved the truth in that even while the agitated Left persisted in making the campaign a referendum on the incumbent.

Poll after poll showed the electorate had more faith in Trump’s ability to run the economy than they did in Biden’s. Yet even James Carville predicted a Biden “landslide,” seeming to disavow… or at least forget…his own axiom: “it’s the economy, stupid.”

I am as happy as anyone that I was wrong and Trump will no longer be President of the United States, but I am very cognizant of his getting 71,000,000 votes in losing. It says a whole lot about America that I do not care to see in print, but it also says something about a major underperformance by Joe Biden. It might even tell us that Mr. Bloomberg should have spent his $100,000,000 on something other than TV ads and postal flyers.

It may be that no one watches TV ads anymore… Maybe people are like me and record the shows they want to see and when they get around to watching, high speed through the commercials. Just maybe what the folks out there believe is whatever that buzz is they get from their “friends” on Facebook, through Twitter, and Instagram, and Tik Tok and other media outlets about which this old guy hasn’t a clue. Maybe Carville should come right out and say it: “hey, stupid, it’s the social media.”

Can you believe that four years of mendacity, incompetence, corruption, massive unemployment, and racism does not matter to over seventy million Americans? Or are they simply being seduced by a series of social network systems that the Democratic party does not seem to know how to use? Are the Republicans that much better at it, or is it really the Russians after all? I don’t know, but someone sure ought to find out.

Social media aside, old fashioned TV provided a couple of surprises…not all of them good: the sterling MSNBC line up of Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid, Nicolle Wallace and Bryan Williams… were totally eclipsed by a director who decided to give more screen time to a computer board and the exuberant, but ordinary Steve Kornacki than to what is arguably the best line up of TV Anchor hosts in the world of television.

Another surprise: Fox News was so much more balanced and thoughtful than I imagined. I was actually impressed with what I saw of their coverage. CNN seemed to do an adequate job, but again… too much emphasis on a computer screen that might have been a novelty before people at home had their own laptops but today is a very ordinary looking piece of equipment. Kornacki and CNN’s John King combined could not meet the excitement of Tim Russert and his 20 years ago chalk board on which he had scrawled “Florida, Florida, Florida.”

And a final TV question of the week. On Saturday, at eight o’clock Eastern Time, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris walked out on that Delaware podium wearing a beautifully tailored white suit and silk blouse. It not only made for good TV (rare from the Biden camp) but what topped it for me was that three and a half hours later, on Saturday Night Live, Maya Rudolph would reprise her role spoofing Kamala Harris while wearing the exact same ensemble. God bless America.

… and Lorne Michaels…if you are out there… I must know how you pulled that off.


Barney Rosenzweig


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