The tension mounted for days — and then broke, all at once.
CNN went first, calling the presidential election at 11:24 a.m. Eastern. It was followed in quick succession by NBC, CBS, ABC and The Associated Press. Fox News confirmed the outcome at 11:40 a.m. Follow LIVE UPDATES here
The projection that former Vice President Joe Biden had defeated President Donald Trump came after days of slow-burning suspense on the cable news networks and broadcast channels.
It was a projection in Pennsylvania that tipped the networks’ models to a surefire Biden victory, as a batch of a few thousand ballots from Philadelphia trickled in, heavily skewed in Biden’s favor.
Donna Brazile, a Fox News contributor who was formerly the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, wiped away tears as she reflected on the significance of Sen. Kamala Harris becoming the first woman of color to be elected vice president.
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“Been a long time coming, to be the last to get voting rights, to be those who waited and waited for our turn; it’s been a long time coming,” she said, after noting that she had been thinking about her grandmother, who did not have the right to vote. “This is not about asking anyone to leave the room. Just scoot over and let women also share in the leadership of this country.”
Van, thank you for expressing the sorrow and relief that we all feel. My hope is that those who hoped for a different outcome will take a moment to empathize with the pain so many of us have felt over the past four years. pic.twitter.com/eqL1szT1Iz
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) November 7, 2020
On CNN, anchor Anderson Cooper asked pundit Van Jones for his reaction. Jones, tearing up behind his eyeglasses, took a moment before saying, “Well, it’s easier to be a parent this morning. It’s easier to be a dad. It’s easier to tell your kids that character matters.”
The nail-biting week had exhausted anchors and audiences alike. On Friday, Jake Tapper of CNN acknowledged “frustration” among viewers but evoked memories of the 2000 election, when networks had to reverse projections in Florida. “No one wants to go through that again,” he said, urging patience. “Everyone in the media wants to get it right.”
Shortly after Saturday’s projection, the major networks showed scenes of revelers celebrating Biden’s victory as well as groups of Trump supporters in places like Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who were waving Trump flags and carrying signs that said, “Stop the Steal,” a reference to the president’s unfounded claims that the election was fraudulent.
Trump, at that moment, was absent from the airwaves. He was off playing golf at a course in Virginia that bears his name.
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