Every election night has at least one standout television moment, and -- with all due respect to John King and his magical fingertips -- the clear winner Tuesday was Republican strategist Karl Rove, who staged a civil war on the air after Fox News called Ohio -- and therefore the entire election -- for President Obama.
Technically speaking, it was Chris Wallace who fired the first shot. Shortly after Fox projected Obama as the winner, Wallace explained that he had received an email from the Romney campaign contesting the network’s decision.
Rove wasn’t willing to concede, either, saying it was premature to call the race, even though most of the remaining votes were from Ohio’s Democratic-leaning Cuyahoga County. After several minutes of protest, he warned, “I’d be very cautious about intruding into the process.”
Wallace was left nearly speechless by Rove’s obstinacy. “Well, folks,” he said, laughing nervously. “Maybe not so fast.”
That’s when Megyn Kelly stepped in -- or, to be more precise, stepped out -- leaving the Fox News studio and making the long walk through a labyrinth of offices to the ”Decision Desk,” a.k.a. the conference room full of number crunchers who make projections for the network.
Kelly handled it all like a pro, pacing the hallway with determination, giving viewers an impromptu tour of the Fox News offices and cheerfully greeting colleagues she passed along the way. She didn’t even pause when she lost her earphone, which rendered her incapable of communicating with her colleagues back in the studio.
Once Kelly had finally completed her journey, she confronted the decision-makers with Rove’s concerns. They refused to budge. “We’re actually quite comfortable with the call in Ohio,” said one, while the other explained in simple terms that there just weren’t enough Republican votes left to make up the difference.
“Well, there you have it,” Kelly said. “They seem very confident.”
The face-off made for sublimely weird television but also crystallized what’s become the meta-narrative of this election: the triumph of the data-driven nerds over ideological pundits.