How the networks covered May 17’s primaries

CNN, MSNBC, Fox and NBC News Now all offered extended coverage of the 2022 midterm election primaries May 17, 2022, the night voters in several key states cast their picks for who will eventually appear on the ballots come November 2022.

MSNBC originated most of its coverage from Studio 3A in Rockefeller Center, with each primetime show host anchoring their normal hours, just with election coverage dominating the story. 

MSNBC Prime,” the Tuesday through Friday replacement for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” was replaced with a second hour of “All In,” which also focused heavily on election coverage.

Each show kept its own normal video wall looks with the exception of the opening block of “The Beat,” which used the simulated view of Rockefeller Center decked out in red, white and blue plus fluttering American flags and simulated billboards atop the roofs often used for political coverage.

While NBC’s famous election theme and Decision 2022 branding and graphics package were used prominently throughout the evening, the network did not use its normal animations featuring additional large billboards and other elements inside of a virtual hanger-like space.

Those animations were, however, used on the “Meet the Press Election Night Special” that aired on NBC News Now, the network’s free news streamer. 

This isn’t the first time “MTP”-branded election coverage was broadcast on the channel, but its use of both the full NBC News election animations and extended narrated open made it feel more like it was the “main” coverage. 

Advertisement

Both Now and MSNBC also used textural-style graphics incorporated into the virtual billboards and other parts of the animations and on-set graphics, a look that also added more color blocks and border elements accents with stars, which created an interesting contrast to the hanger space behind. This look was also used during 2020 election coverage.

Do not adjust your TV: This prominent moiré and visible seams was part of an extended overview of races at the top of ‘The Beat’ May 17, 2022. 

Back on MSNBC and inside of Studio 3A, the large floor to ceiling LED array with the so-called Kornacki curve were decked out with Decision 2022 branded graphics throughout the night, including an extended look at key races at the top of “The Beat” hour that, unfortunately, had the walk and wander floating camera get physical too close to the LED for its video on video shots, creating significant moiré issues and revealing some of the normally nearly invisible seamless between panels.

The space in front of this area featured the studio’s movable red riser with integrated LED panels. 

Later in the broadcasts, the network switched to using fullscreen graphics when giving overviews, though it wasn’t immediately clear if that was planned or not.

Meanwhile, Steve Kornacki was found in his normal place on election nights — at the end of his namesake curved LED in front of his famous touchscreen, which appeared to be giving him some issues with being able to write freehand on it at at least one time during the night. 

MSNBC did not use the green screen studio behind the rolling wall that it did during the 2021 election.

NBC News Now anchored from Studio N1, normally the home of “Meet the Press,” and was co-anchored by Chuck Todd and Kristen Welker. The space used a combination of Decision 2022 graphics and Washington imagery.

Other portions of N1’s LED video walls sported data-driven graphics and the simulated view of the first floor newsroom.

CNN, which was the only major cable network to retitle its coverage, split its anchors between Washington, D.C. and New York.

Advertisement

This portion of Studio 21L at CNN’s Hudson Yards studios has rarely been seen on air, though the tracking movable LED panels are used during ‘Anderson Cooper 360’ and other broadcasts more frequently, but shot in the opposite direction.

Jake Tapper lead off coverage from the network’s studio in D.C. using the large curved video wall there to overview key races. He later tossed to Erin Burnett, who was initially standing in a little-seen portion of Studio 21L, normally the home of “Anderson Cooper 360.” 

New York coverage, which included former CNN+ host Chris Wallace on set, was done from the “360” anchor desk, which is modular and can be expanded to fit more people as needed.

Fox also opted to mix in election night coverage with its normal primetime programming, using the “Democracy 2022” branding showcasing results in sidebar style graphics as well as a ticker-style element below the lower thirds. 

Each show used a combination of its normal graphics package along with the red, white and blue “Democracy” look, including display results on the video chandelier in Studio M

Sign up for NewscastStudio's weekly newsletter.Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest broadcast industry news to your inbox including new debuts, case studies, thought leadership and broadcast gear updates.