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An Oral History Of Watching CNN This Election Week


Tuesday, November 3: Election Day

At 4 p.m., I called my beleaguered manservant Roger in for a meeting. I told him he was not to disturb me on Election Night, unless I called to him to bring me food or beverage or needed him to clean up something I’ve spilled.

Election Night is a holy night in this household. I’ve watched every election unfold since the invention of television, sometimes live in studio. This led to my best-selling book, “The Calling Of The Election 1968,” and its hit sequel, “The Second Calling: 1972.”

But because this is a pandemic year, I’ve remained sequestered in my Mount Winchester Estate, even though I have herd immunity.

“It will be white wine and fish tonight, Roger,” I said to him. “Heavy food on Election Night is never a good idea, as it leads to gastrointestinal upset.”

“The turbot is already poaching, sir,” Roger said.

He is a good man, and hard to find.

Of course, Election Night can only mean one thing: CNN, the Comedy News Network, which has always been the funniest parody of newscasting on TV. By 8 p.m., I was watching John King slide his hands around the big board. It reminded me of how I used to slide my hands around my one true love Wally Trumbull, so many decades ago. Every time Wolf Blitzer announced a “Key Race Alert,” I remembered that he was the worst contestant in “Jeopardy!” history.

I expected it to be an early night, with Donald Trump losing by 11 p.m. EST, and me slipping off to bed before Dana Bash could provide any additional insights. But the results came in with disturbing slowness, and I found myself at the bottom of a bottle of Riesling. I nodded off in my chair, and before I knew it, it was

Wednesday, November 4

I snapped awake to Van Jones saying, “Georgia is a unique case because…” and before I could focus my attention, Ana Navarro was exclaiming that Trump is the Worst Hitler Since Hitler.

Had they not called the election yet? How was that possible? And how were the same six people sitting at the CNN desk? Had they not gone home? If they had gone home, had they taken cars with drivers? Were the drivers masked? Were these magical newspeople, or immortal elves?

I needed help.

“Roger!” I exclaimed. “Coffee! STAT!”

Thursday, November 5

I hadn’t slept. How could I, when democracy was in the balance? Roger made me six pots of coffee, the last at midnight. Here I sat, transfixed, as I watched volunteers slowly count ballots in a Maricopa County warehouse. Still the CNN anchors went on, irreplaceable to our democracy.

Jake Tapper, who, at the beginning of the election cycle had appeared to be as rosy-cheeked as Opie Taylor, seemed to be sagging, gradually transmuting into the Cryptkeeper before my eyes as Donald Trump said increasingly crazy things.

But no one else seemed worse for wear. Anderson Cooper never blinked, almost as charismatic as when he used to have Kathy Griffin attached to his hip on New Year’s Eve.

“KEY RACE ALERT!” Wolf Blitzer exclaimed, and my left eye began to twitch. I couldn’t sleep, not now. If they called the race and I was snoozing, I would never forgive myself for missing such a key moment of historical history. I went to my phone and located the Door Dash, a magical app that allows slaves to bring you food and you never have to see them.

I ordered a gallon of coffee ice cream and a 12-pack of Monster MAXX Rad Red, my favorite flavor. That would keep me going.

By the time I finished the third Rad Red, I began to hallucinate that Political Director David Chalian, a grownup human Cabbage Patch Kid, was sitting in my room, explaining exit polls to me. Was this heaven, or was this hell? I imagined Dana Bash at my birthday party, and I smiled.

Friday, November 6

KEY RACE ALERT!” I shouted, as I snapped awake in my chart. How long had I been out? I had been dreaming that I was in Paris with John King, and he was a mime, and that Wolf Blitzer was still bad at “Jeopardy!”

Had they called the race? Why did all the drugs on these commercials have so many side effects? I realized that I had only been asleep for five minutes, all I needed. I brushed the Peppermint Joe-Joe crumbs off my chest, popped three Benzedrines, and washed it down with a Monster MAXX Rad Red.

I received a text. It hoped it was from Van Jones, but it was not. It was only Roger asking if I wanted him to clean the bidet. No one else ever texts me anymore, not even my agent, who’s been dead since 2006.

Friday dusk approached. It was time for more Anderson Cooper, and for cocaine.

Saturday, November 7

I danced around my study, bandana tied around my head, as the vote-counting went on and on. Philly. Shit. They’re still only in Philly. When were they going to call Pennsylvania? Why would anyone call Pennsylvania, much less go there? How had these CNN anchors stayed at the desk so long? Why hadn’t they gone home? Who would tell the true story of these volunteer journalists’ heroism in the face of impossible fascist odds?

I looked at my face in the mirror. It was six times the normal size. Both the mirror and my face. I needed some Diazepam.

Then, it happened. The skeleton on my TV who had once been Jake Tapper said that Joe Biden had been elected president of the United States. “Our long national nightmare is over,” Tapper said. Below me, the streets of Mount Winchester Village erupted in cheers and gunfire.

It was one of those moments. I still haven’t processed it. The Trump Years, which I watched entirely on TV, was over now. My phone began to explode from texts from Roger, who informed me that the downstairs toilet was overflowing because I had been throwing my garbage into it. This was a celebration like no other.

Maybe Tapper has had some hours off since that moment, but I still, as of this writing, haven’t slept. I walk the parapets of my Mount Winchester estate, accompanied by the haunting spirit of Wolf Blitzer, who continues to miss “Jeopardy!” questions.

Van Jones has cried on TV. The rest of the world has gone into quarantine, because the Biden parties gave everyone COVID and now the governors must punish us. But as soon as I can sleep again, my nightmare, may, in fact, be over.

Because I will never have to watch CNN ever again.