CNN viewers just saw a beautiful episode of the John and Wolf Show, my favorite imaginary sitcom about grounded, mature political correspondent John King and his childlike, wide-eyed colleague Wolf Blitzer. In this edition of the odd-couple series, Blitzer couldn’t restrain himself from excitedly interrupting King with meaningless updates on the Florida vote count that no adult should put any stock in.
The duo turned their attention to the Sunshine State around 8:13 p.m. EST. “Look at this,” said Blitzer. “Only about 15,000 or 16,000 votes separate these two candidates in Florida with 85 percent of the vote in. Her lead once again has shrunk.”
“Has shrunk, and again, what filled in?” asked King, gesturing at the map on the wall. “Some more areas up here filled in. Last time we were here, we had a big opening up here, now we have a smaller opening up here, and you get a—”
“It just changed again, only an 11,000-vote lead! Just now, it changed!” said Wolf, sounding like a small child watching a magician do a card trick.
“Math on your feet, I like this. Wolf Blitzer, we have a living abacus here,” replied King, delivering what might be the harshest burn of the evening. “But as you watch it fill in … you’re seeing a live data feed into the wall, so it will change as we’re talking sometimes. Trump is doing what he needs to do in the rural areas—”
“All right, take a look at Florida, because all of a sudden, take a look at Florida right now,” Wolf interrupts breathlessly, having completely failed to grasp King’s simple explanation of how a live data feed works. Wolf continues: “You see with 85 percent of the vote in, Hillary Clinton is now in second place. Donald Trump has taken the lead in Florida. … Look at how close it is! 700 votes or so separate these two candidates!”
King launches into another cautious, grounded explanation of the geographical nuances of Florida’s voting patterns for a few minutes, until Blitzer breaks in to say, “Trump right now is 918 votes ahead. Nine hundred and 18 votes! Almost, what, 8 million people, their ballots have been counted, and he’s got a lead of just under a thousand votes.”
“Eighty-six percent,” King confirms, like a teacher encouraging a kindergartener who’s just given an answer that’s almost right. King returns to a monologue about Collier County for a moment, until—
“Take a look at this,” interrupts Blitzer for a fourth time. “She has now taken the lead once again. Hillary Clinton is now in the lead. It’s going to update in a second. We’re watching this very close. You can see right there. Hillary Clinton has a 4,000-vote lead.”
Friends, that is not even the last time Blitzer interrupted King during this segment. Twice more, Blitzer cut into King’s informed analysis to say “About 3,000 votes ahead” and then “1600 votes ahead right now!” To be clear, these shifts in the vote count are not representative of any actual change in the results of the Florida election—they are an arbitrary reflection of the speed with which votes are tallied in different counties.
Wolf “Living Abacus” Blitzer, ladies and gentlemen.