They certainly were intended for that purpose. Below is a great article on behind the scenes info concerning it.November 3, 2004 An Early Night for Viewers Becomes a Cliffhanger By JIM RUTENBERG NEW YORK TIMES As of midafternoon, the likely outcome yesterday appeared clear. Polling data streaming into the broadcast and cable news networks indicated that nearly every state that had been in contention after eight months of hard campaigning was breaking for Senator John Kerry. President Bush, it seemed, would likely be a one-term president, just like his father. But shortly before the evening newscasts President Bush's campaign aides had words of warning for reporters and producers: Don't believe everything you see. And so began a battle of wills in which the president's advisers worked furiously behind the scenes, and sometimes on the air, to keep the networks from acting on the information from surveys of voters leaving the polls. Mr. Kerry's aides worked to bolster those numbers. And the networks strived to call the race as quickly as possible without making any mistakes. All sides had fresh memories of 2000, when flawed polling data and vote tabulations in Florida led the networks to call the race for Al Gore, then for Mr. Bush, then for neither. Mr. Bush's aides said the premature calls depressed his vote in Florida, while Mr. Gore said they sent him into the recount looking like a sore loser. From the start, the cable and broadcast networks made a big show of their newfound caution. And as the evening progressed, caution came to look increasingly prudent. As in 2000, there were again doubts about the reliability of the polling data. Then, differing interpretations emerged about the Ohio vote, again pushing the uncertainty of a winner into the early morning. In a move they might not have done in 2000, the networks held off from making early calls on states like South Carolina and Virginia, which they were certain Mr. Bush had in the bag. "I enjoyed how much I've heard 'We don't know,' '' Aaron Brown, the CNN anchor, told his colleague Wolf Blitzer on camera. Mr. Blitzer responded, "We're not ashamed to say that.'' Tom Hannon, the CNN political director, told a visitor at his "decision desk" that the network was approaching the hard-fought swing states that polls had shown as too close to call "as if we were a bomb disposal team. We're being very careful as we're taking them apart and trying to figure out what's happening.'' But the National Election Pool - the new vote projection system run by the networks and The Associated Press and used by dozens of major news organizations, including The New York Times - was indicating that the caution was perhaps unnecessary. Several waves of data about the national popular vote showed Mr. Kerry beating Mr. Bush by two to three percentage points. Early polling data from the states showed Mr. Kerry beating Mr. Bush in Pennsylvania and Ohio. And two out of three surveys of people leaving polls in Florida showed him winning there, too. (The third wave had the two candidates tied.) In short, Mr. Kerry seemed on the verge of winning the three states that most pundits believed could sway the election. Based on that data there was a pervasive sentiment within the corridors of Fox News Channel, beginning as early as late afternoon, that the race would be locked up long before midnight in Mr. Kerry's favor. While urging caution, John Moody, senior vice president at Fox News, said "there are indications" that the election will be over much earlier than in 2000. Over at NBC, Brian Williams, the NBC News correspondent and soon-to-be anchor of "NBC Nightly News," said "People were thinking they may have to make some reservations for Boston tomorrow morning.'' While the tone of the networks' on-air coverage did little to betray the inside knowledge, some clues, however subtle, seeped out early that the night might belong to Mr. Kerry. On ABC News, George Stephanopoulos, the host of "This Week,'' said, "Democrats are feeling good, feeling confident; the Republicans a little apprehensive.'' And in what may have been a Freudian slip, Martha MacCallum, one of the anchors on Fox News, referred to Senator Kerry as "President Kerry," just after 8:30 p.m. Those kinds of comments and slips were not going unnoticed at Mr. Bush's campaign headquarters, where aides believed the polling data - particularly from Florida - to be skewed. "It was really different from what we'd seen and it laid a foundation for the evening's coverage that was based on a flawed model,'' said Nicolle Devenish, Mr. Bush's campaign communications director. "The coverage that ensued was 'Bush team worried; Kerry team giddy.' The coverage of that was based on a falsehood.'' Concerned that the tone - along with polling data seeping out on the Internet - would affect voter turnout on the West Coast, the Bush team continued their push. "People on the West Coast are watching what happens on the East Coast,'' Ms. Devenish said. "The whole kind of formula for an Election Day is a turnout mission and certainly when there's reporting based on inaccurate data it is not helpful.'' Mr. Bush's aides had some evidence to back up their claim. The national polls were showing far more women voting than men - an anomaly that did not seem to add up. "Either the data is wrong, or the demographics of the electorate has changed dramatically,'' said Mark McKinnon, a top strategist for Mr. Bush. An official with the National Election Pool, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it did appear that women - who tend to prefer Democrats - were overrepresented in the national poll. But, this official said, the same problem did not appear in the state polls, which were far more important and indicated Mr. Kerry was ahead. And producers at three major news organizations said they had come to the same conclusion. But after polls closed, and as more data trickled in, Mr. Bush's aides said they noticed new anomalies. All of the networks had hesitated to call Virginia and South Carolina for Mr. Bush to some part because polling data showed that Mr. Kerry was actually running ahead of him in Virginia by one point and was nipping at his heels in South Carolina, according to Matthew Dowd, Mr. Bush's chief campaign strategist. "The exits said we would lose Virginia by one. We are probably going to carry it by eight,'' Mr. Dowd wrote in an e-mail message shortly before 10 p.m. "Exits said we were going to lose South Carolina by six. We will win it by at least 10.'' Bush campaign officials gathered producers who were huddled at their Virginia headquarters and hit the phones and BlackBerries with a message: "The early exit models undercounted Republicans.'' Similar conversations were taking place throughout the media landscape. "I get all this stuff on my BlackBerry: buy this, don't buy that,'' Mr. Williams said, acknowledging, "it may temper how you take in new information, though.'' Bill Wheatley, an NBC News vice president, called the early polling information "junk," adding, "The White House has been spinning us very hard, especially on Florida.'' And the Bush campaign seemed to have achieved at least some of what it wanted. "The news from inside the Kerry camp, it's not discouraged yet, but not nearly as encouraging as earlier in the evening,'' Dan Rather, the CBS News anchor, told viewers. On the second floor of the CBS News Broadcast Center in Manhattan, John Roberts, the network's senior White House correspondent, was sifting through the mix of polling data and vote tabulations. "Much of what you're seeing is based on very sophisticated exit polls,'' he said. "But it's true that in the end, this election will be decided on some very old ways of voting." As Mr. Rather put it after 11 p.m., "Put on a cup of coffee, this race is far from over.'' Within two hours - first on Fox News, then on NBC and MSNBC - the race seemed indeed over as these networks declared Mr. Bush the victor in Ohio. "It's hard to see how George Bush is not going to be re-elected president of the United States,'' Tom Brokaw, the NBC anchor, said. But as the producers at CBS News saw their colleagues presenting Mr. Bush so close to victory, they decided not to follow. "We're running our own show,'' Al Ortiz, CBS's director of special events, said in the control room. Marcy McGinnis, senior vice president for news coverage, said: "Our decision desk believes it's just too close to call. There's a number of provisional ballots out there, and the information just isn't there yet.'' Now, it was Mr. Kerry's aides making the calls, warning that NBC and Fox News could live to regret the calls. "Once again, they are being premature,'' said Joe Lockhart, a top aide to Mr. Kerry. Another Florida? he was asked. "It sounds that way,'' he said. "It's just a little farther north.''