Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Letter from the editor: Election night was about the facts

By Mark Whitaker, CNN
updated 5:32 PM EST, Wed November 7, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mark Whitaker: CNN made the choice to focus on reporting for election night coverage
  • He says the public wanted to know the facts, rather than dwell on opinion
  • Whitaker: Election raises key questions, worthy of more reporting, about politics, demographics
  • He asks: Can the parties work together on jobs, the deficit, immigration, the environment?

Editor's note: Mark Whitaker is executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide.

(CNN) -- If you were flipping around your television dial on Election Night, you saw a lot of news coverage dominated by anchors and pundits sitting in TV studios spouting opinion and analysis. But not on CNN.

On our air, you saw dozens of reporters at polling places around the country, watching for irregularities but also capturing the messy yet miraculous spectacle of democracy in action. You saw Candy Crowley, Jessica Yellin, Jim Acosta and Brianna Keilar at election night headquarters, offering behind the scenes details about the candidates and campaigns as they anxiously awaited the verdict of the people.

Mark Whitaker
Mark Whitaker

You saw Dana Bash dissecting the Senate and House outcomes as only someone can who has covered Congress for two decades. And you saw the maestro of the Magic Wall, John King, interpreting the tallies from decisive counties within the swing states minute by minute as they came in, telling you what they meant and how they would shape the electoral map.

A lot has been written about how cable news has become increasingly dominated by talk and opinion, because that's what drives TV ratings. But as we began our planning for Election Night more than a year ago, CNN decided to go in the opposite direction and double down on our strength: reporting.

We pared back on the number of analysts in our studio and sent more reporters into the field. We invested in new state-of-the-art sets in our Washington bureau that allowed us to display electoral data more clearly and vividly than we ever had before.

How election night unfolded on CNN
Inside Romney campaign internal polling

We relied on two anchors, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper, who have always been more interested in conducting great correspondents than being soloists themselves. We asked our incomparable international reporters to keep track of what the rest of the world was saying about America's voteā€”and we actually put them on our U.S. airwaves to talk about it.

We did it because we value facts more than opinions, but also because these days that's what sets CNN apart. And we were glad to see that, for this historical night at least, it was what the public appeared to crave as well.

An average of more than 8.8 million viewers watched the evening's coverage on our U.S. network, more than any other cable news network, and others followed it on CNN's international networks around the world. The reviews are also in, and they tell us that our investment in covering the election as journalists was welcomed. "CNN Destroys Cable Competition on Election Night," was only one gratifying headline, on a post by Erik Wemple, the media critic for The Washington Post.

At CNN.com, we had more than 203 million page views, the highest in four years. Our social media traffic on Twitter, Facebook and other sharing platforms set new records.

But at CNN we're not ones to dwell over press clippings, good or bad, and so we are already hard at work following up on all the angles that emerged from last night's result.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Can the parties now come together to address jobs, the deficit, immigration, the environment, relations with Iran and China and all the other pressing problems clouding our future? Or is a $6 billion election that left us with the same division of executive and legislative power we had before a recipe for more gridlock?

And what will the demographic winds that carried Barack Obama to reelection, despite a sour economy, mean for tomorrow?

How will our future be shaped by a Hispanic population that now accounts for more than 1 in 10 voters, by the empowerment of a generation of young voters who have now turned out in record numbers for two presidential cycles in a row (and who are driving a slow but steady sea change in acceptance of gay rights), by a white electorate that favored Mitt Romney, but is smaller than it has ever been, by the growing political gap between women, who favored Obama by 11 points, and men, who went for Romney by 7 points?

And what are we to make of not only the persistent red/blue divide between states, but the growing urban/suburban/rural divisions within states?

All fascinating questions, for our politics and for our society, and ones that will keep us at CNN busy and happy providing you with the kind of reporting and story telling we love to do.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
updated 5:32 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
updated 7:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 3:27 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT