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What each of the TV networks are planning for election night

The long-running television drama known as Campaign 2016 reaches its conclusion tonight, and tens of millions of Americans will be following the results on their television screens.

The record election night audience of 71.5 million viewers came on the night of Barack Obama’s first victory in 2008 (it was 66.8 million in 2012).

Given the consistent level of interest throughout the 2016 campaign, it’s not hard to imagine that record being broken.

Besides following on TV, many of those viewers will have second or third screens at hand to dive deeper into results.

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of network plans:

NBC

NBC is the defending election night ratings champion and that’s a major point of pride for a television news division.

With Brian Williams now exiled to MSNBC, the main network is taking the team approach with Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd as headliners for its coverage.

Tom Brokaw is a comforting presence as an analyst: He’s been involved in every NBC election night since 1968.

As in the past, NBC is dressing up New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, with the front of its headquarters lighting up in red and blue to mark the electoral progress of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and a map of the United States superimposed on the famed skating rink.

Todd will be NBC’s guru of exit polls and the electoral map.

Andrea Mitchell will report live from the Clinton campaign headquarters, with Katy Tur doing the same at Trump’s.

Each of the three top broadcasters will air elections coverage from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET.

ABC

The current and two former anchors of ABC’s flagship “World News Tonight” broadcast will be on the set election night, but George Stephanopoulos will lead the coverage.

Stephanopoulos is ABC’s top man in politics, and it will be his first election night as the chief anchor.

Election night is all hands on deck, however, and Charles Gibson is coming out of retirement to be on the set. Diane Sawyer, who anchored ABC’s coverage four years ago, will also participate, along with current “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir.

ABC’s coverage will originate from Times Square, and Michael Strahan of “Good Morning America” will be outside to get public reaction.

ABC is stationing Robin Roberts at Hillary Clinton’s headquarters and Amy Robach at Donald Trump’s.

ABC News also has the closely watched prognosticator, Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight website, giving state-by-state analysis.

ABC will also air a special edition of “Nightline” from 2 to 4 a.m. ET.

CBS

CBS is stressing the ensemble approach for its coverage and showcasing its entire morning show team.

Rather than declare Scott Pelley as its chief anchor, CBS News is giving equal billing to seven different personalities: Besides Pelley, they are the morning show team of Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, the network political director John Dickerson, correspondent Elaine Quijano and semi-retired anchor Bob Schieffer.

Rose will showcase his interviewing and also lead a panel of experts for analysis.

Anthony Mason is CBS’ man at the maps.

Major Garrett will cover Trump headquarters and Nancy Cordes will be with Clinton.

The CBSN streaming service, which celebrates its second birthday this weekend, will also stream a continuous news report Election Day and night.

CNN

Election night coverage on CNN begins before any of the polls close, at 4 p.m. ET, with Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper and Dana Bash tag-teaming it.

Actually, Election Day coverage begins 16 hours earlier, with CNN appealing to insomniacs with a live overnight political show hosted by Poppy Harlow.

The network is stationing 25 correspondents to report from polling sites at swing states across the country.

John King is back in front of CNN’s Magic Wall of data, David Chalian will cover exit polls and Mark Preston is stationed at the network’s decision desk. Gloria Borger, David Axelrod, Nia-Malika Henderson and Michael Smerconish are at the analysts’ desk.

For overseas viewers, CNN International will simulcast the main network’s elections coverage all over the world.

MSNBC

No longer on the main network, Williams will anchor MSNBC’s coverage as part of a team with Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews.

MSNBC’s coverage starts at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than NBC, and will draw on the same bench of experts used by the main network.

PBS

Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill will anchor PBS’ election night coverage, which begins at 8 p.m. ET on the public broadcasting network.

John Yang will be at Clinton headquarters in New York and Jeffrey Brown will be following Trump.

PBS’ list of analysts include David Brooks of The New York Times, Amy Walter from the Cook Political Report, veteran broadcaster Jeff Greenfield, Mitt Romney’s former campaign chief Stuart Stevens and former Obama pollster Cornell Belcher.

C-SPAN

If you tire of television analysts, C-SPAN offers an alternative.

The network will dart around the country to hear victory and concession speeches by candidates running for various races.

The network will also take viewer calls and sample comments from social media throughout the night, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Scientists rate cable news on climate change reports

The scientific accuracy of climate change coverage varies significantly across the three major cable news networks, with MSNBC on top, CNN in the middle and Fox on the bottom.

The rankings are based on an analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The scientists said CNN segments that mentioned climate science were wholly accurate 70 percent of the time while Fox News segments were 28 percent accurate and MSNBC’s were 92 percent accurate.

The assessment was based on a review of nearly 600 segments mentioning “global warming” or “climate change” across the networks’ most prominent evening and weekend programs in 2013.

“Sometimes, it’s like the networks are covering different planets,” said Aaron Huertas, a science communications officer at UCS who led the analysis. “Unfortunately, too many politicians, interest groups, and pundits continue to dispute established climate science and cable shows sometimes give them a platform to do so.”

On CNN, most of the segments that included inaccurate statements were from debates featuring guests who reject aspects of established science. These included misrepresentations of the relationship between climate change and some forms of extreme weather, as well as misleading claims that global warming has stopped.

“Debates about responding to climate change can be informative, but debates about whether or not science is real spread unwarranted doubt and confusion,” Huertas said. “It’s like interviewing someone who claims that smoking cigarettes isn’t bad for your health.”

Fox News Channel hosts and guests were the most likely to accuse scientists of manipulating or hiding climate data, the analysis found, and hosts and guests often conveyed misinformation about scientific findings, including multiple misleading claims that global warming is not occurring.

The analysis found that Fox did have some accurate coverage, including interviews with policymakers and fact-checking overstatements about climate change from celebrities and liberal figures. Special Report with Bret Baier and The O’Reilly Factor were responsible for almost all of the network’s accurate coverage, though both shows also had segments that featured inaccurate representations of science.

Despite its relatively low accuracy, the analysis found a significant improvement for Fox News from 2012, when an analysis found just 7 percent of its reports on climate science were accurate.

MSNBC’s coverage was mostly accurate. On a few occasions, hosts and guests overstated the speed and severity of sea-level rise as well as the link between climate change and some forms of extreme weather, such as tornadoes. However, they also accurately conveyed science on those topics in other instances. A majority of MSNBC’s accurate coverage featured some criticism of politicians or other public figures who dispute established climate science.

The report suggests that cable news channels could do more to improve the scientific accuracy of their climate change coverage.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, CNN hosts and guests could participate in debates about policy rather than debates about well-established science, Fox News could do more to differentiate between scientific fact and political opinion on climate change and MSNBC can avoid overstating the effects of climate change.

“Despite their varying degrees of accuracy, hosts, guests, and producers at these channels have demonstrated they can get the science right even as they approach climate policy with very different goals and beliefs,” Huertas said. “As the effects of climate change mount, it’s increasingly important for news outlets to accurately convey the risks scientists are studying.”

MSNBC host apologizes to Romney family for jokes about infant

An MSNBC host apologized to Mitt Romney’s family on Dec. 31 after she and guests on her show joked about a Christmas picture that showed the 2012 Republican presidential candidate’s adopted, African-American grandson.

Melissa Harris-Perry said her intention was to celebrate diversity, but the segment took an unexpected and offensive turn when she asked her guests to talk about a photo showing infant Kieran Romney with his grandparents and their 21 other grandchildren, all of them white.

One guest on her Sunday show, actress Pia Glenn, sang “one of these things just isn’t the same.”

Comedian Dean Obeidallah said it “sums up the diversity of the Republican party.”

Harris-Perry said she’d like to see Kieran marry Kanye West’s daughter so West and Romney would be in-laws.

MSNBC has had several of its hosts issue apologies in recent months.

Martin Bashir apologized and resigned from the network on Dec. 4 after making graphic remarks about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, suggesting someone should defecate in her mouth.

Bashir’s comments about Palin came on the same day MSNBC suspended Alec Baldwin from his weekly show for two episodes because the actor used an anti-gay slur in a confrontation with a photographer on a New York City street. Baldwin apologized, and he and network ended his show after five episodes.

MSNBC suspends Alec Baldwin show after anti-gay slur

Alec Baldwin’s new weekly MSNBC talk show was suspended for two episodes after the actor was videotaped using an anti-gay epithet against a photographer during a New York street encounter.

The cable channel didn’t specify the reason it yanked “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” from its schedule last week and this week, but the decision came the day after the run-in.

In a statement on MSNBC website, Baldwin wrote that he “did not intend to hurt or offend anyone with my choice of words, but clearly I have – and for that I am deeply sorry.”

He said his actions came as he tried to protect his family – presumably from the photographer – but were unacceptable and undermine “hard-fought rights that I vigorously support.”

The video, which was posted on TMZ, also drew a tweeted apology from Baldwin in which he claimed he was unaware the term he used was offensive to gays.

MSNBC declined further comment. Baldwin’s representative said in an email that the actor would decline to comment.

The incident came during the week a Canadian actress was convicted in New York of stalking Baldwin with calls, emails and visits over a two-year period. Genevieve Sabourin was sentenced to six months in jail in addition to a month she’s already serving for her courtroom outbursts.

Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria, said in a statement afterward that the two “feel safe, relieved and happy to move forward” with the case resolved.

But Baldwin reportedly lost his cool again when a reporter for a New York TV channel asked about the trial and, according to Variety.com, Baldwin called him “dumb.” The exchange took place outside Baldwin’s apartment building, the website said.

Baldwin’s career has included Oscar and Tony nominations and originating action hero Jack Ryan in the 1990 film “The Hunt for Red October” as well as his Emmy-winning turn on “30 Rock.”

He’s also known for his temper. He was kicked off a plane in 2011 after refusing to stop playing a cellphone game, and he’s gotten into confrontations with news photographers. He and a New York Post lensman filed harassment complaints against each other after an altercation in February, and a Daily News photographer said Baldwin punched him in 2012, which Baldwin denied.

Fox News at record low in ‘trust’ poll

An annual survey shows trust of Fox News at a new low.

Public Policy Polling has been conducting its annual TV news survey for four years. The polling recently released shows that Fox News has hit a record low with voters – 46 percent do not trust its news compared to 41 percent who do.

In 2010, 49 percent trusted Fox News and 37 percent did not.

Fox, according to PPP and to probably no one’s surprise, polls far better with Republicans than Democrats.

Democrats are most trusting of PBS (61 percent), and then NBC, CBS, CNN, ABC and Comedy Central. 

Republicans are most trusting of Fox, followed by PBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CBS and Comedy Central.

PPP, in its release on the survey, said, “We find once again this year that Democrats trust everything except Fox, and Republicans don’t trust anything other than Fox.”

There was only one source that more voters trust than distrust – PBS, with 52 percent of voters saying they trust the source compared with 29 percent who do not.

In two separate questions, one asking which single news source is trusted the most and which one is trusted the least, Fox “won.”

PPP conducted the poll among 800 voters – 25 percent described themselves as somewhat conservative, 28 percent as moderate, 18 percent as very conservative, 19 percent as somewhat liberal and 11 percent as liberal. There were slightly more women than men surveyed.

Clergy petitioning MSNBC to drop invites to anti-gay group

A coalition led by openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson is petitioning MSNBC to stop providing anti-gay Christian right leader Tony Perkins a platform.

Perkins is the head of the Family Research Council, which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Perkins, according to the petitioners, has appeared on MSNBC more often this year than on any other cable news network to discuss gay rights.

The petition, circulated by Faithful America, contains 20,000 signatures and states, “The Family Research Council is a hate group, and journalists ought to treat it as such. MSNBC must stop inviting Family Research Council spokespeople on the air to represent the views of Christians and other people of faith.”

The petition also states, “MSNBC has built its business on progressive viewers, and they need to hear that we find it unacceptable to provide an unquestioning platform for the religious right’s hatred and fear-mongering.”

Signers include Robinson of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire and, from New York, the Revs. Jacqui Lewis of Middle Collegiate Church, Michael Ellick of Judson Memorial Church, Chloe Breyer of Interfaith Center of New York and Earl Kooperkamp of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

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Right charges Fox News and MSNBC are “in bed together on gay rights”

Fox News and MSNBC are “in bed together on gay rights,” charges a columnist on a right-wing website.

As evidence, writer Cliff Kincaid says that Fox News anchors Jamie Colby, Rick Folbaum, and Kimberly Guilfoyle are listed as “special guests” at a March 24 fundraiser to be held in conjunction with the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. The event, titled “Headlines & Headliners,” will be hosted by MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts.

Kincaid quotes Peter LaBarbera, of the virulently homophobic group Americans for Truth, blasting Guilfoyle and questioning Fox News’ anti-gay credentials.

“It is appropriate that Guilfoyle would be at this event based on her appearance on the Fox News “Red Eye” show in which she not only dismissed the social conservative boycott of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) but she laughed at Greg Gutfeld’s nasty anti-Christian bigotry,” LaBarbera is quoted as saying. “Gutfeld called pro-family groups haters. She didn’t come to the defense of pro-family groups to defend their moral belief that homosexuality is wrong. It demonstrates her own bias against pro-family organizations. Many social conservatives are afraid that Fox News is going from neutral to becoming increasingly pro-gay. Fox News hosts were pretty much AWOL on the homosexuals in the military debate.”

Kincaid does on to attack Fox News for covering a story about Chick-fil-A restaurant’s anti-gay activities.

 

No she isn’t

No, that eager buzz you’ve been hearing at the bar over frosty Miller Lites is not true. Rachel Maddow isn’t running for the U.S. Senate in 2012. The rumors began circulating after Maddow’s address at Harvard University, where the audience pressed her about transitioning from covering politics and politicians to being a politician.

Maddow rejected such a transition with a “never,” which means the MSNBC host will not be taking on Republican Scott Brown in his next round in Massachusetts.

Follow the money

MSNBC temporarily suspended liberal commentator Keith Olbermann after learning that its “Countdown” host contributed $2,400 to Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway and Arizona Reps. Raul Grivalva and Gabrielle Giffords. NBC News prohibits employees from working on or donating to political campaigns unless they have a special exception.

Meanwhile, flipping channels to focus on Fox News, conservative host Sean Hannity contributed $2,400 to a John Gomez’ congressional campaign in New York and $5,000 to Many Individual Conservatives Helping Elect Leaders Everywhere, a PAC associated with Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann.

But that’s nickels and dimes compared to the $1 million Fox poppa News Corp gave to the Republican Governor’s Association for the midterm election.

Olbermann later apologized for what’s considered a breach of journalism ethnics.

No apologies from Hannity or Fox – and we don’t expect any.