HOTT News, the newest player in cable news, wasted no time in stirring controversy. In its first day on air, the station declared Barack Obama the winner of the presidential contest, even though the actual election is 98 days away. Shauna Falco, the White House Correspondent for HOTT News, said she had enough information to report the winner: "The New York Times has Nate Silver. We have someone like Nate Silver. A few battleground states are too close to call, but we feel confident enough to say Obama has won."
Stunned that a news channel would choose to debut by reporting Obama's re-election as hard news, media watchdogs are hammering HOTT News and encouraging people to boycott the channel's sponsors. But executives at the station are immune to criticism, including station founder Steve Rose. In a press release, Rose defiantly stated: "We're playing to be first, not second, and definitely not last. We care about being out in front...way out in front. It doesn't matter if we get it wrong. Other stations are wrong all the time. They're wrong and boring. Call us what you will, but we'll never be boring."
But isn't HOTT News concerned that nobody will take them seriously? Won't making outlandish predictions hurt their brand? "Making outlandish predictions is our brand," said Che Clinton, the head pundit at HOTT News. "People will have to take us seriously because we're in the news business for the long haul," he said.
So what happens in November, after the real election takes place? What will HOTT News do if Mitt Romney gets more electoral votes? "Simple," said Ms. Falco. "We'll issue a mea culpa, or at least a just kidding, and report that Romney won. It's no big deal. But we think we got this one right, so we're not freaked out about it." For the record, when we asked Ms. Falco about her credentials, she would only say she is a news hound and that she excelled as an intern in her college years.
Criticism aside, the antics at HOTT News instantly paid off, considering it had more prime-time viewers last night than MSNBC and CNN combined. "We're here to win the ratings game--in all demographics," said Ms. Falco, "So get your popcorn ready." Get your popcorn ready? That sounded familiar, so I asked Ms. Falco what inspired the comment. She replied: "Terrell Owens. When he was in the NFL, he was my fav." I assume she was abbreviating the word favorite, but I was too exasperated to ask. It's not going to be easy covering HOTT News.