The scene could not have been more different for 2020 contenders as Iowa Republican and Democratic caucuses unfolded.
In coverage of the first-in-the-nation contests for the presidential election, viewers at home were presented with polar opposite pictures of packed Republican caucus venues supporting an uncontested President Donald Trump and Democrats in seeming disarray as CNN grappled with presenting some semblance of reporting on Democrat voting results.
Dozens of high-profile Republicans, including the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., spread out across the state in support of Trump who was called the winner of the first presidential nominating events of 2020 by the Associated Press.
— Mick Pauly (@mick_pauly) February 4, 2020
The Republican race was called at 7:25 p.m. Central Time, only 25 minutes after the voting began, and Trump easily won with 97% of the GOP vote against former Massachusetts Governor William Weld and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, who each garnered 1% of the votes.
Louisiana GOP Rep. Steve Scalise shared photos of Team Trump members, including members of the president’s family, who were “out in full force” Monday night.
.@TeamTrump out in full force at the Iowa caucuses!
I’m here with @EliseStefanik, @DonaldJTrumpJr, @EricTrump, @kimguilfoyle, @LaraLeaTrump, @parscale, @ElectRodney, @bradyfortexas, @MarkMeadows, @JasonSmithMO, and more talking about how @realDonaldTrump is working hard for YOU! pic.twitter.com/gKL7qZbLC4
— Steve Scalise (@GeauxScalise) February 4, 2020
Earlier in the day, Trump Jr., his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and brother Eric held a news conference in West Des Moines.
LIVE: Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump hold news conference in West Des Moines ahead of Iowa caucus. https://t.co/VtvsQEQU3x
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 3, 2020
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik and others made their way to caucus sites crowded with Trump supporters.
Just finished speaking for @POTUS @realDonaldTrump at this Republican caucus in Waukee, IA. Enthusiastic support for @realdonaldtrump in this group. They love @POTUS here. #KeepAmericaGreat #iowacaucus2020 pic.twitter.com/rB1SVbhjgL
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) February 4, 2020
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) February 4, 2020
It was my high honor to represent @realDonaldTrump at the Iowa Republican caucus location at Marion High School tonight.
It was a packed house and these Trump supporters are ready for FOUR MORE YEARS! pic.twitter.com/yDwj2S40AT
— Tim Murtaugh – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TimMurtaugh) February 4, 2020
Trump touted the phenomenal results Tuesday morning, claiming record-breaking votes in the state caucus:
Last night, President @realDonaldTrump set a turnout record for an incumbent president in the Iowa Caucus.
The Republican Party is more unified than ever behind President Trump because he has delivered a historic record of results for Iowans and all Americans!
— GOP (@GOP) February 4, 2020
Meanwhile, for Democrats, things looked decidedly different as the night ended with no official vote totals in what Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale called “the sloppiest train wreck in history.”
Before the Iowa Democratic Party blamed “inconsistencies” in some precinct reporting, the coverage at several caucus venues probably left many CNN viewers disappointed at best.
“CNN’s early evening Iowa caucuses coverage offered up a journalistic case study of cable news trying to manufacture coherent news out of random data points and anecdotal moments,” media critic Reed Richardson wrote in an opinion piece published by Mediaite.
“With reporters stationed at just a handful of the 1,600 precincts caucusing on Monday night, CNN was mightily trying to grapple with a state-wide election that it only had a granular view of, at best,” he added. “The fluid nature of the vote effectively rendered CNN’s attempts to understand in real-time a pointless effort.”
CNN correspondent Brian Todd delivered a breathless account from Sioux City where he explained that “any second now, they’re going to give the signal” and “we’re going to see very soon where the critical mass is for these candidates.”
Dana Bash responded to host Wolf Blitzer’s question about the size of the caucus in Des Moines where she was reporting from with a simple, “It’s big.”
It looks like you’re trying to predict elections results with a few anecdotal observations about turnout in random precincts.
Can I help you throw your computer out the window? pic.twitter.com/hYWbem9Dgd
— G. Elliott Morris (@gelliottmorris) February 4, 2020
Jake Tapper, also at the Des Moines site, was no less vague, describing the groups for 2020 contenders Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as well as Pete Buttigieg as “big.”
“Clearly a number of groups that won’t meet the 15% eligibility threshold. One thing that’s interesting, I want to point out, is that caucuses are all about passion, who can get there to advocate for them on a winter night in February?” Tapper said.
“The Yang gang is a bigger gang than the Biden gang, it’s very clear,” he added, with a string attached: “It’s one precinct. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”
Media critic Jack Shafer, among others, took apart the CNN reporting fiasco.
Now would be a good time for @jaketapper to confess that there is no news and instead of sending rumors to his viewers he’s going to send his hand-drawn cartoons.
— Jack Shafer (@jackshafer) February 4, 2020
These are the exact moments on which cable news thrives: all attention, no news.
— Nathan Heller (@nathanheller) February 4, 2020
These live pop-ins to caucuses, with no context at all, are great time-waste theater.
— Bryan Curtis (@bryancurtis) February 4, 2020
More than hour ago, Wolf Blitzer called the Iowa results a “cliffhanger.”
— Bryan Curtis (@bryancurtis) February 4, 2020
CNN treading water HARD while Iowa Caucus results are not coming in.
“We don’t have results as of yet. Let’s go to Ryan. Ryan, what can you tell us about the fact there is no results?”
“Well, Wolf, as you know, the results are very much not in yet.”
— Cole Escola (@ColeEscola) February 4, 2020
The best was when the one guy read the text from the Democratic Party explaining the delay then they cut to another guy who acknowledged that he heard what the 1st guy said then proceeded to read the exact same text out loud. Riveting!
— Daniel Hill (@Aeroforz1) February 4, 2020
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