The Moment When Networks Called The Presidential Race For Joe Biden

By Ted Johnson, Dominic Patten

CNN screenshot

After days of wait over a seemingly glacial pace of ballot counting, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer called the presidential race for Joe Biden at 11:24:20 AM ET, the first of the networks to declare the winner.

“After four long tense days, we have reached a historic moment in this election,” Blitzer said. “We can now project the winner of the presidential race.”

NBC News followed at 11:24 AM, MSNBC at 11:25 AM, CBS News at 11:25 AM, ABC News at 11:26:20 AM, the Associated Press at 11:28 AM and Fox News at 11:40 AM.

What triggered it? The latest report of votes coming in from Pennsylvania, which put Biden’s margin over Trump at more than 30,000. Although the trendlines have been in Biden’s direction, network decision desks had been reluctant to make the call until they could better discern the remaining vote.

“It must be said. To paraphrase President Ford, for tens of millions of Americans, ‘our long national nightmare is over,'” said CNN anchor Jake Tapper.

Analyst Van Jones broke down in tears. “It’s easier to be a parent this morning. It’s easier to be a dad. It’s easier to tell your kids, characters matter. It matters. Telling the truth matters.”

On MSNBC, Steve Kornacki explained that more vote came in from Philadelphia County, followed by Allegheny County, two Biden strongholds. He said that while there are votes outstanding that could favor Trump, “The implausibility just reached the critical threshold.” The Associated Press explained that it called the state for Biden, and then the presidency, after his lead over Trump surpassed .05%, outside the margin for a mandatory recount.

Andrea Mitchell said on NBC News, “I’m thinking of the 32-year quest for presidency of this man, his resilience in the face of failed attempts in the past. A very slow start, stumbling out of the gate. Losing the primaries and caucuses, reclaiming it on Super Tuesday and taking a centrist message which will now challenge him, his ability to reach across the aisle will be challenged on the left within the Democratic Party.”

On CBS News, anchor Norah O’Donnell said Kamala Harris “will become the first woman to serve a heartbeat away from the presidency. That is the highest elected office ever to be held by a woman in the United States. And she will be the first Black American and the  first Asian American  to ever be elected Vice President. Certainly a historic moment as well. Of course, on the hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote, there is finally a woman in the White House.”

On ABC News, Jon Karl said, “This is the beginning of the end of a presidency unlike any that we have ever seen. Donald Trump was the first person elected president who had never served a day in government, not a day in the military.”

Fox News called not only Pennsylvania for Biden but Nevada, bringing his total to 290 electoral vote.

Martha MacCallum said, “Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, who stated in this process, ‘I will never give up fighting for you and our nation,’ will be denied a second term. That has not happened since 1992 and President George H.W. Bush. Keep in mind, the Trump campaign is in the midst of waging legal challenges in several states, but the path is clear for the new president elect.”

Contributor Donna Brazile cried as she talked of Harris’s history making moment, as the first woman of color to be elected vice president.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Brazile said. “To be the last to get voting rights. To be those who, just waited and waited for our turn.  It’s been a long time coming. I thought about my mom and my grandmother this morning. They didn’t have the right to vote, but I did. I spent all my life believing that the right to vote was the key to our future. And because of the American people, the faith. Those who did not see color, gender, those who believed that it was about competence and just giving everyone a seat at the table.”


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