5:58 p.m.: I tune in a few minutes before Fox News’ election special starts, just as de facto White House spokeswoman Laura Ingraham is launching into her final pre-results prediction for the night. “Whatever happens tonight, the mainstream, lamestream media will conclude that it is a total repudiation of Trump’s policies,” she says.
Greg Gutfeld, who does a slightly older version of Jesse Watters’ every-white-guy schtick, is leaning so far back in his seat that I worry for a second that he might tip over. This man just does not care! When asked for his own final pre-results thoughts, Gutfeld announces that he is about to go get a drink. Watters forces out a laugh. Oh, Greg!
6:05 p.m.: Honestly, nice set. Good-looking chairs, lots of red, white and blue. Wolf Blitzer, eat your heart out. The core group isn’t the worst Fox News has on offer. The relatively straightforward duo of Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum appears to be at the helm tonight with Chris Wallace and Brit Hume offering insight on either side. Kind of a Republican Party circa 2004 feel going on? Should I be cautiously optimistic this won’t devolve into a night of coded talk of “America’s changing demographics”? Because I am not cautiously optimistic.
6:15 p.m.: Chris Wallace points out that if Republican Andy Barr wins his race in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, the “red wall gets a little redder,” while if Democrat Amy McGrath wins, “the wave gets a little bluer.” Primary colors. Rudimentary metaphors. This is the kind of cable news analysis I crave.
6:22 p.m. Bill Hemmer is at one of those interactive screens, and he is noting that tonight they will be closely watching the race between Republican Denver Riggleman and Democrat Leslie Cockburn in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. Donald Trump endorsed Riggleman and won the district by 11 points in 2016, which naturally leads to two questions and two questions only: “Is he still that popular again this year? Or has he increased his popularity?”
6:26 p.m.: Harris Faulkner is introducing something called the “Key House Race Tracker.” As far as I understand it, the Key House Race Tracker helps you track key House races, but in a way that makes it feel like sports! Who doesn’t like sports. Not Faulkner, and I know that because she just said, “We love the NFL on Fox, you know that” while describing a yellow line in the middle as a “yard line.”
She adds that you can look at what’s near that middle line and understand which races are closest.
“My husband loves that. I don’t even have to speak and he knows the score of the game,” she cracks.
6:34 p.m.: OK, we’re suddenly cutting to “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy, who is at a bar in Missouri where he is ready to talk to some regular beer-loving Americans. “America needs a drink,” Doocy laughs. Haha, definitely! The only problem is the bar is not very full at all. Of the three women Doocy interviews, two are voting for incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. This woman, however, did not vote for McCaskill:
6:42 p.m.: Laura Ingraham, Juan Williams, Dana Perino and Marie Harf are on stage now. Honestly, not minding the conversation among the latter three. But I’m having trouble following Ingraham, who is explaining that there are two camps in this country: “one that feels really battered and abused by the mainstream media” and another made up of people who want “payback” and to “send a message: that even though the economy might be doing well, we don’t like the way we feel.”
6:54 p.m.: Oh, hell yeah. Let’s hear from some men on the street. Chad from South Carolina is worried about “open borders,” and Tom’s main issue is “the polls have been wrong all along and people are not getting the facts out.” Then the camera turns down and we meet Phoenix from Texas, a young and intrepid “kid reporter” with a great hat who believes Beto O’Rourke is too left for his state. The Fox News interviewer responds: “I’ve got two words for you: You’re hired.” Everyone laughs.
7:12 p.m.: Brit Hume is trying to help viewers understand how it could possibly be that Trump’s tax bill is unpopular with Americans when the economy is great. The answer, he says, is not that the tax bill didn’t work as promised but that Republicans didn’t sell the it well. “It is a trap that Republicans fall into every time,” he says, before adding: “The rich didn’t do well in this tax cut. It was very much a middle-class tax cut.” Is that true? Who knows.
7:15 p.m.: OK, wow. It’s starting to get much more Fox Newsy up in here. There is suddenly a sense of nervousness in the studio, and Ingraham just took control of the conversation to say that “the Democrats are better at the emotional anecdote, tugging at your heartstrings ― the kid who can’t get his procedure covered by insurance.”
“It is very emotional, and people like emotion, it is good,” Ingraham explains.
Emotion, it is good.
7:24 p.m.: Bret Baier is now interviewing former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. The conversation seems fairly civil until Rendell suddenly says Trump “shouldn’t be talking about a made-up caravan,” adding, “Nobody with half a brain ―” before Baier cuts him off so quickly that for a second I thought Rendell had dropped an f-bomb. “There is actually a caravan,” Baier exclaims.
“But [it’s] only an issue in President Trump’s mind,” Rendell replies. “These people are not trying to get into the country illegally. They’re seeking asylum.”
The guest appears to be making dangerous amounts of sense, and Baier changes the topic, asking Rendell if he thinks Democrats should investigate the president if they take over the House of Representatives or focus on legislation.
7:33 p.m.: Interesting poll out of Georgia. Appears voter suppression was not an issue! Everybody move on.
7:39 p.m.: Steve Hilton, who was once an adviser to former British Prime Minister David Cameron, is saying that this election is going to turn into “style versus substance.” Unsurprisingly, it appears the Democrats are the “style” in this metaphor. Hilton is arguing that, unlike regular Americans, wealthy Democrats don’t have to worry about money, so they can focus on the president’s personality ― “what he says, how he behaves,” etc.
“I have a feeling what we are going to see is the Revenge of the Elites,” he predicts.
8:02 p.m.: Within seconds of calling the Illinois gubernatorial race for Democrat J.B. Pritzker, Martha MacCallum notes that he will become “the richest governor, actually, in U.S. history.” Question: Why is it that when a Democrat is rich, he’s an “elite,” but when a Republican is rich, he’s “successful”? The correct answer is: Who cares. It’s time for class war.
8:07 p.m: Things are looking good for the Dems, and Fox News is bringing in the big boy, Tucker Carlson, for some expert analysis. It seems as if Andrew Gillum might eke out a victory in Florida, and Tucker, like you, wants to know how exactly this atrocity could have come to pass. Sure, he’ll now admit, Ron DeSantis kind of sucks. But what else? “Immigration has changed Florida in a very recognizable way,” he says. “The California of 30 years ago was solidly Republican. So was Florida. They now have different people in them.” What kind of people could he be talking about? I have no idea.
He also notes that ― wait, could this be? He’s pointing out that the “hard left” politics of Gillum might be more popular than previously assumed, since a lot of young people are living with their parents, etc. Of course, as we all know, universal health care is a “ludicrous” idea, he says, adding: “There’s no way to pay for that.”
But, he continues:
Maybe the hard-left economic issues are a little bit more popular than we want to think they are. I think that’s ominous. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Beto O’Rourke, for example, I think will probably lose tonight, but he’s coming a lot closer than he should in the state of Texas. Again two causes: Immigration has changed the demographics in Texas, and two, some of this populist economic stuff is more popular, again, than we want to think it is.
This has to be the closest we’ll get to a Fox News panic button.
8:14 p.m.: “I disagree with much of what he says, but I think he’s a very attractive guy,” Brit Hume says of Andrew Gillum.
8:39 p.m.: Just as I find myself getting bored, Laura Ingraham wakes me back up. This time she’s mad about the rich Democratic elites ― ActBlue and Tom Steyer (not George Soros this time; who knows why). These elites threw “millions” into the Florida gubernatorial race, and we can all agree, again, that DeSantis kind of sucks. So should that loser win, Ingraham argues, “I gotta say it’s all Donald Trump who won this for him.”
9:00 p.m.: POLLS CLOSED IN 14 MORE STATES! BASED ON THE GRAPHICS THIS IS VERY EXCITING NEWS! I AM GETTING TIRED!!!
9:09 p.m.: “Don’t discount the power of Rick Scott” is a sentence I never thought I’d hear, but hear it I did, just now, courtesy of Laura Ingraham. She is talking about Florida, and now that Gillum appears to be fading, he is suddenly too “far left” for Florida, even though he almost won. Seems a little confusing, but she’s the expert, not me.
9:17 p.m.: Well, helloooo, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who is very excited to talk about Republican Mike Braun winning a Senate seat in Indiana. It appears this is the main victory we are excited about tonight.
Check out the excitement:
Between Hume and Rove, you could make an entire “McLaughlin Group” panel out of all the jowl on set tonight.
9:25 p.m.: Whoa, celeb sighting. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is joining us from just outside the White House, and she wants to let everyone watching Fox News to know that the president’s actually had “an incredible night.”
“You’re seeing Americans come out and unanimously say that they are proud of this president and proud of what he’s done in these two years,” she says.
This is welcome insight, since the needle at the bottom right of the screen currently gives the Democrats an 84 percent chance of taking back the House of Representatives.
9:33 p.m.: Whoops, sorry, Sarah: Fox News has just called the House for the Democrats, and Chris Wallace is guessing that a lot of people’s heads are “exploding” at this exact moment, which is maybe the fairest and most balanced analysis I’ve heard tonight.
9:44 p.m.: We’re back with Steve Doocy at the bar, which is now incredibly full with what I can only assume is a representative sample of the Missouri electorate, considering this tweet is the reason most of them are there:
Doocy starts to poll the entire audience. Who here voted for Claire McCaskill? A few people clap in the back. How about Josh Hawley? Raucous applause. Who here cares about health care? Near silence. The economy? Raucous applause. Kavanaugh? Raucous applause. How about the CARAVAN!? A few uncomfortable claps.
9:53 p.m.: My girlfriend looks tired and a little depressed, so I switch the TV to CNN for a few minutes.
9:56 p.m.: OK, she’s asleep now, so I switch back, and Mike Braun is giving his victory speech. Yes, he is the star of the night, or at least the hour.
10:04 p.m.: Laura Ingraham, the woman gets your attention. I was kind of losing interest and then she threw out the words “the constant demonization of the president as racist, as Hitler, as anti-Semitic and everything you can think of.” I’m not sure why exactly she said that, but I know I’m now listening, and we’re talking about Florida and Georgia. Ingraham proclaims that if both states go Republican, “Oprah, Obama, the entire mainstream media have a huge amount of egg on their face.”
10:11 p.m.: Hold on, we have ourselves an old-school cable news showdown! Laura Ingraham says that Trump has been unfairly portrayed as a “combination of Stalin, Hitler and every tyrant that ever lived.” Juan Williams is saying that “if the media was fair, they would call Trump out on his lies.” Ingraham appears mildly annoyed!!!
10:15 p.m. Mike Braun, crown jewel, is now being interviewed. What are the things that really rile him up? “Balancing our budget” and “fiscal integrity.” Hell yeah.
10:22 p.m.: After a few minutes of everyone pumping Donald Trump up, Chris Wallace works the brakes. “We are overstating a little bit the importance, not the importance, but giving too much credit to Donald Trump for holding on to the Senate. The fact is, this is a historically difficult year for the Democrats.” Are we sure Wallace gets invited to his co-workers’ birthday parties?
10:25 p.m.: It appears hard-left-communist-agitator-slash-Democrat Beto O’Rourke has lost, and Karl Rove is suddenly explaining why with jowly condescension. “If he had understood he is running in a red state he might’ve had a better shot,” Rove says, adding that O’Rourke must have been an idiot to take radical positions like supporting the right of NFL players to peacefully protest.
“He systematically alienated any shot he had at getting any moderate, independent vote,” Rove says, “unless they just really didn’t like Ted Cruz at all.”
10:28 p.m.: Just realized it’s the 10 o’clock hour, which makes this Ingraham prime time, and I realize that because Ingraham is currently in possession of her second showdown of the last 30 minutes, this time with Chris Wallace. Ingraham is saying Cruz probably won because Trump went down there and that Donald Trump Jr. had a big effect on the midterms. That kind of stuff. “The party is coming home to Trump. The party is unified,” says the news anchor. Meanwhile, she argues, the Democrats are having an Ocasio-Cortez party. Get it? They are socialists now.
“I don’t think that’s fair to say about the Democrats. That’s a complete mischaracterization,” argues Chris Wallace.
She seems to start to interrupt him. He says, “Laura…” She says, “Chris…” They keep it cool enough, but you can tell. You can always tell.
10:35 p.m.: The situation had looked a little dire for Republicans an hour or so ago, but things are picking up for them now. Coincidentally, the mood of the room at Fox News has improved. Republican Lindsey Graham is videoing in to explain why Republicans “won.”
“The reasons we won is I think Kavanaugh united our party, the caravan was an affront to our sovereignty, the economy was good and President Trump worked his butt off to get out the Republican base vote,” he says.
Then, like Lynyrd Skynyrd finishing off a set with “Free Bird,” Graham returns to Kavanaugh. Thanks to an assist from Bret Baier, he calls the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing “despicable” and “a Democratic debacle.” “This was a good man that had his life ruined,” says Graham of a man who was confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court literally last month.
11:07 p.m.: Brit Hume is discussing the handsome 38-year-old Republican Josh Hawley’s defeat of Claire McCaskill in Missouri. “Josh Hawley emerges as a star on the national scene,” he says. “I wonder if he will get more publicity than Beto O’Rourke now that he won and O’Rourke lost. I kind of doubt it,” he says before launching into something that I suppose technically could be described as a laugh.
11:11 p.m.: For at least the second time tonight, someone on Fox News has implied the caravan is a manufactured controversy meant to drum up Republican anger. Last time it was Ed Rendell; this time it was Juan Williams. And just like last time, Bret Baier has jumped in like an umpire to let the world know that the caravan is real. “The caravan is real,” he says. “It is there.”
Williams begins to explain that Trump has depicted the caravan of migrants as “gang members about to force their way through our borders” before the conversation turns to whether the House Democrats will “investigate or legislate.”
11:16 p.m.: Juan Williams and Brit Hume seem to be fighting, but honestly I’m too tired to even try and deduce what it is they are fighting about. Something about Trump. You can assume.
11:41 p.m.: I just realized I fell asleep for 25 minutes. Right after I wake up, Bret Baier pulls out a line about “investigation after investigation,” and I wish I hadn’t.
11:44 p.m.: We cut to a Josh Hawley victory speech, then a Rick Scott victory speech, then a Ron DeSantis victory speech. It appears that the Republicans have saved the country, buoyed by Donald Trump against the various attempts by the Democratic Party to sink our once-great nation.
We have been saved once more, and I am going to bed.