Three weeks after one of the most stunning elections in American history, CBS This Morning anchor Anthony Mason dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss the build-up and fall-out of election night.
“It’s always one of the most suspenseful nights in your career,” Mason said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I’ve done exit polling since at least 2000, and I was an election nut as a kid. I used to work on political campaigns, so I’ve always loved the excitement of an election night. I’m always up for it and excited. We started getting the first exit poll numbers around 5 p.m., and those numbers turned out to be somewhat misleading. We knew it was going to be really, really close, but I don’t think there were indications early on that the electoral college was going to go the way it did.”
Mason and his colleagues, however, prepared accordingly.
“We had rehearsed both outcomes,” he said. “The weekend before the election, we did full rehearsals in which we would declare a winner and we rehearsed both outcomes. When you do that, you sort of mentally get yourself prepared for both things. It’s very strange to rehearse with essentially fake numbers. But when you go trough that process and you call a winner, you have to believe it while you’re doing it.”
Still, many election gurus predicted a Hillary Clinton win. Some even predicted a Clinton landslide.
That did not happen on Nov. 8.
“There was genuine shock on the night,” Mason said. “I generally hate the rehearsals. It kind of confuses you. For the sake of rehearsing, they make up artificial numbers so you can run through scenarios. When you get to the actual night a few days later, you still have those numbers in your head and you have to flush them out. But I was very glad I rehearsed because in the end you open your mind up and you suddenly go, ‘Okay, there actually is a whole range of (possibilities) here. Ignore all these things everybody’s saying. This could go either way.’”
Even as election night fades in the rear-view mirror, the story of the election continues to unfold.
“It’s still driving the news cycle, and I think it’s going to drive the news cycle of quite awhile,” Mason said. “This is going to be a particularly historic election because of what happened. Trump wins the electoral college, but Clinton looks like she’s going to end up winning the popular vote by two-and-a-half million votes. You can’t have a country more clearly divided down the middle as this one is now. There’s so much inherent friction there.”
Mason also weighed in on the changing media landscape in America. Some of the changes are positive; some are not.
“Listen, I’m a Twitter junkie,” Mason said. “I got sort of pushed into it by some of my colleagues and did it reluctantly, but I love getting a stream of information on Twitter. It’s how I sort of keep myself on the front edge of things. But I also need something that’s ultimately more satisfying. Those are the hors d’oeuvres, if you will. I need the main course at some point. There’s so many shifts going on concurrently, but I think the key thing is if you tell a good story, it will find an audience. With so many people delivering information, it’s how you tell a story that really is going to matter.”