Election Night’s Frankest Anchor Award: To ABC’s Peter Jennings, whose network said Michael Dukakis had won Maryland, then later Tuesday night reversed itself and said, no, George Bush had won the state. Jennings told viewers he could explain the complex reasons why things went wrong, but “basically we made a mistake.” He said the mistake involved Maine. Then he corrected himself and said he meant Maryland. But it’s the thought that counts.
The Something Is Going On Here Award: To NBC’s Chris Wallace. During NBC’s delay in joining CBS and ABC in calling George Bush the winner, Wallace, reporting from Dukakis headquarters, assessed the mood there by noting “that defiant air of optimism is beginning to fade.”
The Big Question Award: To ABC’s Sam Donaldson. As Dukakis got out of his limo in Boston en route to his concession speech, Donaldson, referring to Dukakis’ late burst of fiery campaigning, bellowed this: “Governor, any regrets you didn’t start earlier?” But the governor did not reply.
The Metaphorically Speaking Award: To CBS’ Dan Rather, who came up with such ditties as:
“Some of these Southern races are crackling like a hickory fire.”
Three minutes before CBS declared George Bush the winner, the anchor man said, “It’s move-to-the-edge-of-your-seat time.”
“George Bush is sweeping through the South like a tornado through a trailer park.”
“Michael Dukakis’ back is to the wall, his shirttail is on fire, and the bill collector is at the door.”
During the 8 o’clock half-hour, as the Bush lead grew like the Blob, Rather said, almost poetically: “What Yogi Berra said was true: It isn’t over till it’s over. But when it’s over, it’s over.”