Frustration Setting in for CNN: Iowa 'Starting to Look Like a Debacle'

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Midnight Eastern time came and went Monday into Tuesday without any official results from the Iowa caucuses and rumors suggested results wouldn’t be published until Tuesday morning. CNN’s patience wore wearing thin late in the 10:00 p.m. hour when their frustrations flashed. They were so desperate for numbers that host and liberal activist Van Jones began reading unverified numbers an apparent caucus secretary had released on Twitter. To that development, the panel fumed.

Following the handoff from Wolf Blitzer to Anderson Cooper, Jones shared the news he was getting from social media. Mush to Cooper’s confusion :

JONES: I'm looking up on Twitter. You got a caucus secretary from a precinct who has just – he says he’s been on hold for an hour, he’s going to tweet out – he’s just starting to tweet out --

COOPER: He’s been on hold for an hour with?

JONES: For an hour with--

COOPER: Democratic Party in Iowa.

JONES: With the Democratic Party. He can't get a response, so they’re just starting to tweet out their results. This is starting to look like a debacle.

COOPER: Wait, who’s this tweeting?

JONES: This is Shawn Sebastian on Twitter. He’s just tweeting out his results. He’s just—“I’m the caucus secretary.”

COOPER: What’s his job? Where is he?

 

 

When Jones finally explained that he was reading from the account of the caucus secretary from “Story County precinct 11” and admitted he didn’t know if the numbers were accurate, he was exasperated by what he was witnessing. “I'm just saying that you’re starting to see a level of desperation set in and it’s starting to look like a debacle,” Jones decried.

Chief political analyst Gloria Borger was perturbed that it was approaching 11:00 p.m. and the Democratic Party in Iowa was sitting on only 25 percent of the vote in. “Well, the word from the party, which I got from somebody working for the party, and they did just put out the update is that now they have 25 percent coming in. Right? As they were saying. Why,” she demanded to know.

Let's say again it was 83.4 percent back in 2016. Also if you have 25 percent why not release 25 percent,” Cooper reminded viewers.

CNN weekend host Michael Smerconish appeared to defend the incompetence of Iowa Democrats. “Because they know how many initially came through the door and stood in the respective corners. They know how many then moved into someone else category. Common sense dictates it's the third calculation,” he argued speaking of their delegate calculation.

But didn't they practice,” blurted out senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson in response and to the laughter of the panel. “Didn’t they do dry runs running up to this evening? I just don’t understand.”

After noting how the debacle had likely hurt young people passionate enough about politics to get out and work on campaigns, Jones probably summed up their discouragement best: “But ordinarily by now, for people who are not used to this, you would be now hearing from the candidates, the ones who lost, the ones who won, and you’re beginning to shape a way going forward. And Instead, we're sitting here worrying about an app.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN’s America’s Choice 2020: Iowa Caucus
February 3, 2020
10:48:04 p.m. Eastern

WOLF BLITZER: Anderson, all the candidates they want to go on television, they want to deliver speeches. They don't want to do it in the middle of the night, they want to do it now. And they're getting zero results so far.

ANDERSON COOPER: Middle of the night? It could be in the morning. Back now with the panel. Van, you were just saying something.

VAN JONES: I'm looking up on Twitter. You got a caucus secretary from a precinct who has just – he says he’s been on hold for an hour, he’s going to tweet out – he’s just starting to tweet out --

COOPER: He’s been on hold for an hour with?

JONES: For an hour with--

COOPER: Democratic Party in Iowa.

JONES: With the Democratic Party. He can't get a response, so they’re just starting to tweet out their results. This is starting to look like a debacle.

COOPER: Wait, who’s this tweeting?

JONES: This is Shawn Sebastian on Twitter. He’s just tweeting out his results. He’s just—“I’m the caucus secretary.”

COOPER: What’s his job? Where is he?

JONES: “I’m caucus secretary for Story County precinct 11. I’ve been on hold for over an hour to report results. We have six delegates.” And he just reports out his first alignment and delegates. I don't know if it's true or not. I'm just saying that you’re starting to see a level of desperation set in and it’s starting to look like a debacle.

GLORIA BORGER: Well, the word from the party, which I got from somebody working for the party, and they did just put out the update is that now they have 25 percent coming in. Right? As they were saying. Why?

COOPER: Right. Again

[Crosstalk]

COOPER: Let's say again it was 83.4 percent back in 2016. Also if you have 25 percent why not release 25 percent?

BORGER: That's right.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH: There are no machines. No ballots to count. This should actually be an easier process than a conventional election. Everybody who was in the individual caucuses knows what the result was. This is entirely doable. It's frankly the third category I expect that's probably causing the complication. When trying to do the translation. Because they know how many initially came through the door and stood in the respective corners. They know how many then moved into someone else category. Common sense dictates it's the third calculation.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: But didn't they practice?

[Laughter from the panel]

Didn’t they do dry runs running up to this evening? I just don’t understand.

DAVID AXELROD: They’ve always had to translate it into delegate equivalence. So, I don't know.

BORGER: It's not easy. It’s not easy, but you should know how to do it.

JONES: I feel sorry for the young people especially who worked their butts off and did their jobs and knocked on those doors and it's cold out there it's tough out there. You’ve got kids who quit school, who quit jobs, who believe in this country, who believe in this process, and who put it all on the line. And those young people, as well as the rest of us, they deserve to see a process that works.

And listen, democracy can be tough, it can be messy. We'll get to the bottom of this. But ordinarily by now, for people who are not used to this, you would be now hearing from the candidates, the ones who lost, the ones who won, and you’re beginning to shape a way going forward. And Instead, we're sitting here worrying about an app.

(…)

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Political Groups Conservatives & Republicans Cable Television CNN Anderson Cooper 360 Other CNN Video Anderson Cooper Gloria Borger Nia-Malika Henderson Van Jones