Midterm election coverage: A viewer’s guide

midterm-election-coverage-viewers-guide
CNN's Wolf Blitzer. (Turner)
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Alex Weprin

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The midterm elections are here, and control of the U.S. Senate is in the balance. Still, these are midterms, not a Presidential election, so television coverage will be significant, but below 2012. Cable news will be all over things, while the broadcasters are mostly sticking with regular programming, save for updates, online programming and 10 p.m. specials. There are also a wide array of online offerings, giving viewers more flexibility to take in the results on their second (or third) screen of choice. Below, a viewer's guide to the options being offered Tuesday evening

IF YOU WANT TO WATCH ON CABLE TV:

And you want flashy technology and a boatload of journalists in the field, turn on CNN. The channel’s coverage will be led by Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper, joined by Jake Tapper. CNN says it has more than two dozen reporters across the country covering the midterms from every possible angle. Analysis will be delivered by Gloria Borger, David Gergen, Michael Smerconish and CNN’s lineup of political contributors, like Newt Gingrich, Paul Begala a and Jay Carney. On the tech side, John King will, of course, be at the “Magic Wall,” with Tom Foreman working inside the “virtual Senate and U.S. House.” CNN is also taking over the Empire State Building, projecting blue and red lights on its side until one party controls the Senate, at which point the whole building will turn that color.

And you want to see another possible “walk to the Decision Desk,” turn on Fox News. FNC’s coverage will be led by its top political anchor, Bret Baier, and its 9 p.m. anchor Megyn Kelly. Kelly had the most memorable moment of the 2012 election when she walked into FNC’s “Decision Desk” to ask them about the numbers that came in, and how they arrived at their decision to call the election for Obama. Will there be another walk through the halls at Fox News? You may have to tune in to find out. Bill Hemmer will contribute to coverage using the “Bill-board” touchscreen, and Martha MacCallum will report on exit polling. Chris Wallace and Brit Hume will appear, with White House correspondent Ed Henry reporting from the White House and correspondents stationed at key races across the country. FNC’s political contributors, including Bob Beckel, Karl Rove, Joe Trippi and Dana Perino will also appear.

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And you want to get a Democratic-leaning perspective, turn on MSNBC. The channel’s coverage, called “Vote! 2014” will be anchored by Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews, joined by Steve Kornacki, who will have results and share data. MSNBC anchors and hosts, including Lawrence O’Donnell, Ed Schultz, Joy Reid, Melissa Harris-Perry and Alex Wagner will report from races across the country. NBC News reporters, including Luke Russert, Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell will appear on the program, while Tamron Hall provides exit polling results. Also appearing as part of the coverage to provide analysis: MSNBC anchors Al Sharpton, Chris Hayes and Jose Diaz-Balart, political correspondent Kasie Hunt, and political analysts Robert Gibbs, Michael Steele and Steve Schmidt.

And you want jokes, turn on Comedy Central. Starting at 11 p.m., “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” will be live, bringing viewers updates on the elections, and plenty of jokes too. R.N.C. chair Reince Priebus will appear on “The Daily Show’”s coverage, called “Democalypse 2014: America Remembers It Forgot to Vote,” and Andrew Sullivan will be on “Colbert’”s coverage, called “Midterms ‘014: Detour to Gridlock: An Exciting Thing That I Am Totally Interested In—Wait! Don’t Change the Channel. Look at this Video of a Duckling Following a Cat Dressed Like a Shark Riding a Roomba! ‘014!” Note: Comedy Central will also stream the shows on CC.com and the Comedy Central apps, letting you watch an actual news channel on TV, and keep the comedy on your iPad, if you so prefer.

And you want politics, puppets and pot, turn on Fusion. Nando Vila and Kal Penn will anchor coverage, dubbed "Midterm Mayhem: Election Night—The Final Smackown," from 9-11 p.m., and it will stream online at Fusion.net in addition to airing on Fusion TV. Alicia Menendez, Jorge Ramos, Jim Avila, Jordan Fabian, chief cannabis correspondent Ryan Nerz, new Silicon Valley bureau chief Alexis Madrigal, Reza Aslan and "The View'"s Nicolle Wallace will all appear. The puppets from Fusion's "No, You Shut Up!" will also make an appearance.

And you want your political coverage with a dash of international flair, watch Al Jazeera America. John Seigenthaler will anchor starting at 7 p.m. and running until 2 a.m., joined by Tony Harris , Ali Velshi, Stephanie Sy, David Shuster, Michael Shure and James Bays in New York. Joie Chen, Mike Viqueira and Wajahat Ali will be in D.C. for the evening. AJAM will have correspondents across the country reporting on key races. In addition, AJAM will have correspondents abroad, reporting on reactions overseas to the election. Nick Schifrin will be in the Middle East along with Rory Challands in Moscow.

And you want the insider’s perspective, turn on Bloomberg TV. John Heilemann and Mark Halperin host starting at 7 p.m. (after a special “With All Due Respect” at 5). Al Hunt will appear as a special analyst, while a number of political insiders and strategists appear, including Kim Alfano, Bill Burton, Lanhee Chen, Fred Davis, Patti Solis Doyle, Anita Dunn, Michael Feldman and John Sununu. BloombergPolitics.com will also stream Bloomberg TV’s coverage, supplemented by visual data.

And you want your returns with a taste of business news, watch Fox Business Network. Neil Cavuto anchors starting at 8 p.m., alongside Maria Bartiromo. At 9 p.m Lou Dobbs will join the show as well. Sandra Smith and Jo Ling Kent will contribute, alongside Peter Barnes and Rich Edson. Contributors, including Liz MacDonald, Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery, Charles Payne, Melissa Francis and David Asman will also appear.

And you want to watch “Shark Tank,” with some election updates, watch CNBC. John Harwood will lead CNBC’s coverage, providing updates throughout the evening as news breaks. The channel’s regular primetime programming of “Shark Tank” and “The Profit” will still run, according to the channel’s listings. CNBC.com will feature a liveblog and the latest election news.

Update: And you want the latest on New York's elections, turn on Time Warner Cable NY1 News. Coverage will start at 7 p.m., and will go wall-to-wall at 8 p.m., covering the Governor's race, the comptroller's race, the attorney general's race and other races throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

IF YOU WANT TO WATCH ON BROADCAST TV:

And you want to witness the magic of the “Fox News Deck,” along with cooking and comedies, watch Fox. Shepard Smith will be anchoring from the Deck, joined by his team of “information specialists” (read more about what breaking news looks like on the Deck here). The same crew of reporters and analysts that are on Fox News Channel’s coverage will contribute to Fox broadcasting’s coverage. Coverage will be offered to affiliates that want it. At 8 p.m. Fox has the premiere of "Masterchef Junior" on the schedule, with a pair of comedies, "New Girl" and "Mindy Project" in the 9 p.m. hour.

And you want the muscle of NBC News along with “The Voice” and lighthearted comedies, watch NBC. Brian Williams will anchor live for east and west coast audiences at 10 p.m., with extra coverage online after the linear broadcast is over. “The Voice” will air at 8 and a pair of comedies from 9-10. Williams will be joined in New York by Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, Tamron Hall, Tom Brokaw and Joe Scarborough, with reporters in the field across the country, including Luke Russert, Ron Mott, Kelly O’Donnell, Chris Jansing and Peter Alexander.

And you want the journalistic chops of CBS News, alongside “NCIS,” watch CBS. Scott Pelley and Norah O’Donnell will lead CBS’ coverage, highlighted by a one-hour special at 10 p.m. From 8-10, CBS will air “NCIS: New Orleans” and “NCIS,” with the pair breaking in with updates every hour. The pair will be joined in their coverage by Charlie Rose, Gayle King, Bob Schieffer, Anthony Mason, Bill Whitaker, Nancy Cordes and John Dickerson, with CBS News correspondents spread across the country.

And you want ABC’s high-profile anchors, combined with FiveThirtyEight’s data, with a dash of “Selfie” and superheroes, watch ABC. George Stephanopoulos will lead the network’s coverage, highlighted by live specials at 10 p.m. for the east and west coasts. There will also be hourly updates. Stephanopoulos will be joined by Diane Sawyer, David Muir, Jonathan Karl, Martha Raddatz, Dan Harris and Alicia Menendez. Contributors Matthew Dowd, Donna Brazile, David Plouffe, William Kristol and Nicolle Wallace will provide analysis live from Election Headquarters, joined on the air by ABC News veteran political journalist Cokie Roberts. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver will appear as well, in addition to ABC’s political director Rick Klein. The network has reporters across the country covering key races as well. There will be a livestream from 7 p.m. tip 2 a.m. ABC will kick off the evening with back to back episodes of “Selfie” at 8, and a special about Marvel superheroes at 9. There will be a special edition of “Nightline” at 12:35.

And you want the somber, serious reporting of the “PBS NewsHour,” alongside other classy public programming, watch PBS. Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will co-anchor at 6 p.m. with updates at 7 and 9 p.m. At 11 p.m., they will anchor a half-hour special covering the events, joined by Hari Sreenivasan, columnists Mark Shields and Michael Gerson, political analysts Amy Walter and Stu Rothenberg, and “NewsHour” contributors Domenico Montanaro and Lisa Desjardins. Other primetime programming will depend on your local PBS station.

IF YOU WANT TO WATCH ONLINE:

And you want to see some spirited debating, watch FoxNews.com’s “The Strategy Room.” The online program will start streaming at 9 p.m. and run through 11. It will be hosted by a rotating list of Fox personalities, including Eric Bolling Jedidiah Bilah, Harris Faulkner, Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery and Andrea Tantaros. The more casual format will likely feature more debating and analysis, and a bit less reporting.

And you want a social experience, watch MSNBC.com’s “Digital Decision 2014.” “The Cycle”’s Ari Melber and Krystal Ball will host the digital broadcast, which will feature the pair responding to viewer comments and questions on social media in real-time. Reporters and contributors from MSNBC and MSNBC.com will also drop by to talk about the races.

And you want to see Peter Hamby break it down, watch CNN.com’s “HambyCast” coverage. Hamby will host the webcast starting at 8 p.m., breaking down results when they come in, and featuring social integrations.

And you want The Huffington Post’s perspective, watch HuffPost Live's coverage. Marc Lamont Hill, Alyona Minkovski and Howard Fineman host starting at 6 p.m., joined by HuffPost’s D.C.-based reporting team of Ryan Grim, Sam Stein, Sabrina Siddiqui, Mark Blumenthal. Viewers can submit text or video questions too.

And you want a local point of view, watch USAToday.com’s coverage. The paper will have a livestream starting at 8 p.m., featuring journalists ad pundits in the newsroom. It will also take advantage of its sister company, Gannett Broadcasting, to have reporters from local stations across the country contributing to its livestream coverage.

And you want more of what you saw on TV, check out the livestreams offered by NBC, ABC and Bloomberg TV. The on-air hosts will continue coverage even when the linear broadcast isn’t on.

Update: And you want the Wall Street Journal's take, check out WSJ.com. Jerry Seib and Sara Murray will host coverage online from 9-11 p.m., joined by members of Congress and reporters from all of the battleground states.