Bugger the polls, apart from the one published by the Des Moines Register newspaper in Iowa.
Fox News, in its exhilarating and fairly utterly scarifying election coverage last night, reported that the paper called Trump to win Iowa by seven points. Seven points it duly was, a fact greeted with jubilation by the happy and beautiful right-wing Fox news desk.
But the polls which gave Biden a comfortable national lead were wrong, wrong, wrong, just as they were four years ago with Hillary Clinton. If Trump is beyond the usual standards of truth and lies, of decency and madness, he’s also beyond whatever stale little magic the polls rely on.
You can’t fence him in. He rode through the open country of America last night and has got close, very close, to winning election 2020.
Fox was the place to watch it unfold. It had the best graphics, it had the craziest talking heads, it had the biggest budget; most compellingly, it was a kind of ground zero of all the fear and loathing that the Trump administration has exploited these past four years.
Its panel talked about honest folks of America who were worried by cancel culture, and how lockdown eroded their freedoms; Biden was all in favour of these evils, Fox warned, but Trump stood for freedom.
Another news channel tuned into Trumpism in its election coverage: Newshub, as fronted by Paul Henry.
“Trump is the most honest President the United States has ever had,” he announced. “By protesting against Trump, people are protesting against democracy.”
He was all smiles when he crossed live to US ambassador to New Zealand, Scott Brown, who talked about “the virus we got from China”, and regarded lockdown as a bad idea: “We have to find a way to live with it.”
Well, the Americans have certainly found a way of dying from it. Over on TV One, election host Simon Dallow pointed to modelling from Stanford University which estimated that Trump’s rallies this past week would have seen 30,000 people infected by Coronavirus, and caused the deaths of 700.
He interviewed two American academics living in New Zealand, Professor Timothy Kuhner and Professor Ted Zorn, both explicitly Democrat, and who both looked glum as the evening wore on. “No,” sighed Zorn, “I don’t feel confident.”
The two New Zealand channels looked like they operated on a budget of approximately $7.50. On Newshub, political editor Tova O’Brien tried to show a graph with the latest numbers in Arizona.
“It’s not working,” she said, and stood there. One News padded out its coverage with occasional crosses to its news partner ABC. Simon Dallow told viewers they were looking at a Black Lives Matter protest. “They’re seem to be carrying,” he said, “an instrument.” One of the protesters was playing a saxophone. “Very positive protest,” Dallow reported.
Biden flipped Arizona. Trump held Texas. America and the fate of the world hung in the balance. “It’s a referendum on Trump,” said Dallow. Two hours later, he said, “It’s a referendum on Covid.”
CNN was static; most of the time, it had a man in a suit walking around in front of a map of small counties. CNBC was concerned with the financial markets. Al-Jazeera kept relaying the news that burst water pipes in Atlanta were delaying the count of votes.
Paul Henry scorned Biden as a man who couldn’t finish a sentence. Biden made an appearance in Delaware, and said quite clearly, “We feel good. We really do. We’re on track to win the election.”
The panel on Fox News looked good. They really did. They said the desire to vote Trump out just wasn’t there. The only thing America and the world can do is stay tuned.
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