Although nobody shattered the glass ceiling on Nov. 8, 2016, Donald Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton certainly shattered all expectations set by the media. With emotions running high, the melodrama played out on cable television and on social media, as Trump haters and lovers commiserated and celebrated respectively.
With the one year anniversary of that night approaching rapidly, Esquire compiled an exhaustive Election Day timeline sourced from the accounts of campaign insiders like Steve Bannon and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and media observers like Jeffrey Lord and Jorge Ramos. The result is highly insightful, providing more details that reveal just how intensely Clinton supporters and coastal journalists were caught off guard by her loss.
Anticipating a Clinton victory, New York magazine writer Rebecca Traister said there was "an electric current running through" her body upon waking up that morning. Zara Rahim, Clinton campaign national spokeswoman told Esquire that she was already planning her Instagram caption. "We were waiting for the coronation," Rahim recalled.
New Yorker editor David Remnick had a historical essay celebrating Clinton's win ready to go. "The idea was to press 'post' on that piece, along with many other pieces by my colleagues at The New Yorker, the instant Clinton's victory was declared on TV," Remnick said.
As early returns began coming in, Sen. Kaine said he was "struck" for the first time by the realization, "I will probably be vice president."
"That feeling," he added, "lasted about 90 minutes."
"I don't think our site had anything, or much of anything, ready in case Trump won," Remnick remembered. "The mood in the offices, I would say, was frenetic."
"I felt so alone, I knew it was done. I was by myself on the floor. I started to cry," noted Traister.
Over at SNL, comedian Neal Brennan said "all the writers [were] crestfallen."
Scheduled for a 2:00 a.m. panel on CNN, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman conceded she "wasn’t prepared to talk about it."
"I couldn’t really understand what had happened," Haberman recalled. "And I think images of gobsmacked reporters probably wouldn’t have helped."
Author Reza Aslan said he "went into a panic attack and couldn't breathe" in the early hours of the morning. Back over at The New Yorker, David Remnick reported he and his colleagues came to an agreement that the Trump presidency constituted "an emergency."
At Clinton's victory party, Rahim remembered people were "sobbing and literally couldn’t move because they were so distraught."
"People were throwing up. People were on the floor crying," Traister recollected.
On a train from Brooklyn, BuzzFeed News editor Shani O. Hilton observed "at least three people sitting by themselves, just weeping silently."
Separated from this hysteria by nearly one year, the relevant question seems to be whether these actors, and the many others who experienced election night with similar shock, have put themselves in a better position to understand what happens outside of Brooklyn, or to better understand, at least, why their certitude was so misplaced. Unfortunately, I think the sad truth is that most have not.