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A dream 40 years in the making

From Aaron Brown


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Go Behind the Scenes with CNN's Election Team: 
• Tucker Carlson: The key was Georgia 
• James Carville: Just vaguely depressed 
• Jeff Greenfield: Hugely consequential 
• Robert Novak: Is liberalism dead? 
• Bill Schneider: A slower, more cautious approach 
• Judy Woodruff: Wonderfully controlled chaos 

Editor's note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN analysts, anchors, and correspondents share their experiences in covering news around the world.

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- At a personal level, anchoring an election is a fascinating, hard kind of television journalism to do.

It's different from the special events that I've done a lot of -- the coverage of September 11, for one -- because in elections you think about it for a long time in advance and then it starts to play out. And you're not sure, when you sit down, what the storyline really is going to be in the end.

An election story comes to you in these little pieces -- a little piece here and a little piece there, and all of a sudden there's a mosaic that becomes clear. The task is to identify that it's there and in front of you, and then to explain it.

And 7 hours after we went on air, hopefully we did that. I'm exhausted: My back hurts, my shoulders hurt, I'm hungry -- I haven't eaten since 10 a.m. -- but I can't imagine going to sleep. I feel every bit of my 53 years and 11 months.

Like everyone, I hope I did my job well. I hope I did it well. Yet election night is the ultimate teamwork event, and every piece, every player has to do their job right. All the other players tonight were perfect -- the people who make decisions on what races to call, the people who design the graphics, the directors, the producers, the correspondents in the field and their producers.

If it all goes smoothly, then the anchor's job is very easy. And tonight, everything went much more smoothly than I imagined it could go, because I know how many moving parts there are.

I feel good about what CNN did, and maybe at some point it will make me think about what I did or I didn't do. The network nailed it tonight: I thought we were smart, on the story, accurate -- all the things that you can hope for as a reporter.

I'm not embarrassed to admit this, but the first call I made after I signed the contract with CNN was to Judy Woodruff, a prime anchor and senior correspondent. I said to her, " I cannot tell you how excited I am that, someday soon, I'm going to do an election with you."

I was really looking forward to that. I've looked forward to this night in many ways since I was 13 years old. That's 40 years ago. I know how silly that will sound to some people, but it's just something I've always wanted to do.

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