The Press: A Long Night at the Races

The Super Bowl comes but once every four years for network news divisions, and Election Night is it. To call or not to call is the question—first the states, then the presidential winner —and timing with accuracy is everything. It was precisely at 3:30 a.m. when NBC, taking a deep breath and one last look into the oracular recesses of its key precincts, declared that Jimmy Carter would capture an electoral college majority and be next President of the U.S.

NBC's pronunciamento beat ABC to the verdict by seconds, CBS by 15 minutes.*...