‘CBS This Morning’ co-anchor has his eye on elections
If anyone knows the significance of the midterm elections, it’s John Dickerson.
The “CBS This Morning” co-host – also back anchoring “Face the Nation” lately, during successor Margaret Brennan’s maternity leave – expectedly has been in the thick of political coverage leading up to U.S. voting on Tuesday, Nov. 6. In addition to his weekday program, he’ll be a prominent participant in a primetime CBS special on Election Night.
While such recent controversies as the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh could affect the outcomes, Dickerson (who anchored CBS News’ coverage of Kavanaugh’s ceremonial swearing-in) knows it remains to be seen how much.
“The difference” with the midterms, he reasons, “is that in a four-year election, every person you talk to is engaged in the national conversation, because they’re all participants. With midterm elections, you don’t want to overdo it. The first thing everybody wants to know is whether Republicans can retain control of the House (of Representatives), and you’re really talking about 30 districts where it might go one way or the other.
“We talk about it in national terms, but we’re really talking about pockets of the country, so the temptation to nationalize is it something we have to watch,” stresses Dickerson. “But, because elections have been national in increasing terms since 1994 – with the Republican Revolution – it’s a real event. All the speculation about how something will play with this group or that group is replaced with actual facts and results, and that’s the most satisfying thing as a journalist.”
Particularly given recent events, Dickerson acknowledges that “people are very engaged in the midterms. Then the question is, ‘At what level are they engaged?’ Are they interested only in the outcome and they won’t be voting, or will this be a large-turnout election? And even if it is a large turnout, does it matter in the places where it needs to matter? It could be notable because it shows enthusiasm, but not really change much, because it happens in places where the control of that seat doesn’t change.”
As an ongoing student of history, Dickerson – the son of groundbreaking television journalist Nancy Dickerson – notes the effect of how the political spectrum is covered today.
“There have been other fascinating midterm elections, but we didn’t have the same media environment that we have now,” he reflects, “so part of this is just the absolutely overwhelming nature of our political coverage these days. These elections tell us certain things, but it takes a while to parse out exactly what they’re telling us … so the rush to have a snappy conclusion usually ends up being one that doesn’t last very long.”