• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Rating the midterm coverage: Trump, Fox News, Borat, and Jimmy Kimmel were the winners

·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

So the midterm elections turned out to be yet another series of bloody culture wars that were hard-fought only to have no knockouts scored; the results were a series of split decisions. Yes, the Democrats won back the House of Representatives, but the Republicans strengthened their hold over the Senate. No, Willie Nelson and all the progressives in in Texas could not push Beto O’Rourke to victory over Ted Cruz. No, Taylor Swift’s first foray into endorsement politics did not inspire a Democratic victory in Tennessee.

That ballyhooed “blue wave”? The high voter turnout? Sure, it can be attributed to millions of Democrats wanting to rebuke President Trump and his behavior. But it also proved that Republicans were also more than enthused to endorse everything Trump stands for: The Republican hold on the Senate was strengthened. So, it turns out, there was no blue wave — that is, no overwhelming force washing away the vulgar anger of the Trump era. Trump triumphed with the help of his shadow cabinet — i.e., the employees of Fox News, just as I predicted would occur.

TV news reflected all of this on Tuesday night. The night before the midterms, Fox News abandoned any pretense of being “fair and balanced” when Sean Hannity and Judge Jeanine Pirro appeared onstage with the president at one of his get-out-the-vote rallies. On Tuesday night, Fox News tried to put on its Serious Journalism face by sidelining Hannity and bully-boy Tucker Carlson and displaying its supposed hard-news journalists. This led to amusing spectacles such as Chris Wallace spitting contempt at Laura Ingraham for her relentless caricaturing of Democratic candidates, as he snapped at her that she had to give the Dems at least some credit for their House victory.

CNN demonstrated once again its down-the-middle mediocrity. It must have been exhausting for the able, agile Jake Tapper to have to sit sandwiched between Wolf Blitzer, the Drone That Speaks, and Dana Bash, with her perpetually glazed fright-stare and her constant tendency to garble words. On MSNBC, things were a shade more energetic than they were the night two years ago, when Trump’s surprise victory seemed to threaten mass suicide among the Rachel Maddow/Chris Matthews/Brian Williams lineup. But that energy went into rabid overdrive with election analyst Steve Kornaki, whose nonstop chatter and boisterous boyish energy finally seemed to have started annoying MSNBC loyalists: I saw many social-media complaints about Kornaki’s motor-mouthed garrulousness.

On the late-night talk shows, the nation’s various split decisions took their toll. Stephen Colbert, who on the night of Trump’s election started hitting the bottle and lowering his voice to an angry growl, was determined to be sunny. But he erred in the guests he’d booked. Nothing says get-to-bed more swiftly than bringing out John Heilemann, the Morning Joe fixture who, with his rounded chrome dome and permanently smirked mouth, is like a talking sleeping pill. Jimmy Kimmel fared better: His jokes were funnier, and he invited the great Fred Willard to appear as the ghost of George Washington. Kimmel also managed to get something funny out of Sacha Baron Cohen, who I thought I’d tired of forever. Cohen was cajoled into reviving his most popular character, Borat, in a taped bit that found the deceptively dumb little figure knocking on doors and interviewing voters with wicked mischievousness.

Where was Jimmy Fallon, you (probably didn’t) ask? He took his Tonight Show off the air for the evening: You know, politics isn’t his “thing.” Instead, Fallon’s hour was filled by more NBC News coverage, over which Meet the Press’s Chuck Todd presided like the smuggest guy in your dorm hall. The country may remain divided, but Jimmy Kimmel won Tuesday’s late-night war with ease.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: