BC Beat

Nailbiter at CBS News

5/07/2008 11:19:30 AM

CBS News almost had its own “Dewey Beats Truman” moment during the Indiana primary Tuesday night.

The network went out on a considerable limb, calling Indiana for Hillary Clinton a few minutes after 8 p.m.

Evening News
anchor Katie Couric delivered the prediction during the opening minutes of NCIS.

But as the night wore on and more precincts reported in Barack Obama’s favor, Clinton’s lead became decidedly thin. The on-screen graphics at CNN, MSNBC and Fox News declared the contest “too close to call.”

Kathy Frankovic, director of surveys at CBS News, told FishbowlDC that the network had the inside line on the vote in Lake County, Indiana, which includes many small towns that went for Hillary but more significantly, includes Gary, an Obama strong-hold near Chicago. 

“We had access to some vote count information before the [Associated Press] in critical locations,” she said.

But Rudy Clay, the mayor of Gary and an Obama supporter, was predicting a shocking upset in his state.

"Let me tell you, when all the votes are counted, when Gary comes in, I think you’re looking at something for the world to see," he told the Washinton Post.

It wasn’t to be. 

But the early call must have caused some sweating inside the CBS News broadcast center.

Said Fox News’ Brit Hume: “I have some sympathy for the people on the decision desk over at CBS News tonight who probably have made the right call, but they’ve made it early and I wonder as the results tighten, if there’s some tightening in the blood veins of some of those people over there who I certainly identify with.”

CBS News didn’t have any company on the Indiana call until after 1 a.m. when Fox News, CNN and MSNBC finally called Clinton’s narrow victory.

November