It's 1am at Fox News and this is the graveyard shift

IN FOX News' election coverage, there was little pretence of fairness or balance. What there was, from the start, was a glum tone that turned downright funereal by the time Mitt Romney conceded, near 1am on Wednesday.

To watch the network's anchors and guests work through the dawning realisation that their candidate was doomed was to witness a textbook case of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief.

DENIAL With the early returns breaking badly for Romney, Karl Rove points to an exit poll suggesting that Democratic turnout was low in Ohio's Cuyahoga County. Everyone basks in the critical importance of Cuyahoga County. Anchor Megyn Kelly asks: ''Is this just maths you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?'' Rove assures her it's real.

Mike Huckabee is counting on rural voters to turn things around: ''I still think Mitt Romney wins when it is all over.''

ANGER Just before the result is called, Sarah Palin says an Obama victory would be a ''catastrophic setback to our economy'' and lashes out at the public: ''I just cannot believe, though, that the majority of Americans would believe that incurring more debt is good for our economy … I cannot believe the majority of Americans would believe it's OK not to follow the constitution and not have a budget.''

As midnight nears and reality sinks in, Megyn Kelly takes out her frustration on liberal colleague Susan Estrich: ''You, having managed the Michael Dukakis campaign, are familiar with the losing feeling.''

BARGAINING With all of the networks calling the race for Obama, including Fox News, Karl Rove pleads for his fellow hosts to uncall Ohio, promising forthcoming returns in the state will be favourable to Romney.

Kelly, followed by the cameras, heads back through the bowels of the building to grill Fox News' decision desk and see if the network's analysts will change their minds. They won't.

DEPRESSION Ed Henry, reporting stone-faced from Obama headquarters as it erupts in jubilation: ''The crowd is near pandemonium now, despite the fact that employment is hovering near 8 per cent.''

Right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer: ''As a psychiatrist, I will offer to write prescriptions for anyone who needs them.''

ACCEPTANCE Still waiting on this one.

— SLATE

The story It's 1am at Fox News and this is the graveyard shift first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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