November 4, 2020

Do these folks ever sleep? That’s the question we all had as we tuned into network coverage of this Election Day Continued.

Many saw anchors such as NBC’s Lester Holt and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos when they shut off their TVs late Tuesday night and then saw them again when they turned on their TVs Wednesday morning.

Consider this exchange on Fox News when Dana Perino asked Bill Hemmer if he got any sleep.

Hemmer said, “Forty-five minutes. What about you?”

Perino said, “I doubled that. … But I have to tell you, that hour-and-a-half sleep that I had was like nothing I think —  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a deep sleep like that.”

Hemmer said, “We’re running on fumes. The thing about our industry Dana, and you know it very well, when there is information, when there is data, when the story is changing, you can run on adrenaline for a long time. It’s those periods where you hit the walls and nothing is new and you start to think ‘Hmm, what’s next?’ And that’s when you feel it.”

But all on-air personalities on all networks seemed to be going strong, even in the middle of the night, even after 16 or 17 hours of being on the air. Holt told me last week that he was bringing an extra suit, and by Wednesday morning, he had changed into that suit.

Steve Kornacki, MSNBC’s map guy, had been up for more than 24 hours, according to The Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr. Kornacki even posted a video on Twitter to thank everyone for their kind words. Barr also reported that CNN’s map guru, John King, left the studio at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning, slept for about two hours and then was back on the air by 11 a.m. As I mentioned above, Hemmer slept for 45 minutes, as did NBC’s Chuck Todd.

How do they do it? Sounds like lots of caffeine is involved. Kornacki told GQ’s Gabriella Paiella before the coverage that he’s all about the Diet Cokes.

“Way too many and too many to count,” Kornacki told Paniella. “On a normal day, I’ll have a couple. But on election night, I just keep it nearby and I’m just kind of regularly using it. These days (people) all tell you, ‘Oh, do you know what’s in that?’ And I say, ‘Well, no I don’t.’”

Poynter is providing around-the-clock coverage and analysis of the 2020 election. Follow along on our live blog for more.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

More News

Back to News