Election 2000: TV Makes A Too-Close Call

The networks' Florida flip-flops threw election night into chaos and undercut viewer confidence. But the media are still driving the postelection campaign

In a week of general humiliation, there was some good news for the TV networks: they did accurately award Florida to the winner. The bad news: they also awarded it to the loser. Dan Rather assured viewers they could take CBS's election-night projections "to the bank"; then the networks had to make two costly withdrawals. It was, in the words of CBS and CNN election consultant Warren Mitofsky, "embarrassing as hell." Yet it also underscored TV's tremendous power, as the networks' blunders led to Al Gore's concession takeback. And as that wild night set up an acrimonious Florida soap opera played...

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