‘Biden whisperer’ Mike Memoli: Be careful to separate ‘projections versus predictions versus hunches’

NBC News correspondent Mike Memoli, known as the “Biden whisperer,” said the network will be meticulous when it comes to explaining “projections versus predictions versus hunches” during election night coverage.

Memoli will be part of NBC’s coverage Tuesday night, which several commentators believe could extend beyond election night and possibly into the weekend with the counting and processing of mail-in ballots potentially slowing the process, particularly in key battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“We have a lot of conversations around reporting results responsibly, what projections versus predictions versus hunches mean, and trying to be explicit about what we do know and what we don’t know when we’re talking about results and not going any further than we actually know,” Memoli told The Hill in an interview.

Cable news networks are expected to easily eclipse viewership numbers from 2016, when more than 31 million viewers tuned in during prime time that year, a 43 percent rise from the 2012 elections.

Memoli, who has covered Democratic nominee Joe Biden since 2007, earned the whisperer nickname from colleagues a few years ago, with senior NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell referring to him as a well-sourced “reporter’s reporter.”

He was first assigned to cover “whoever the VP was” regarding former President Obama’s running mate of choice, which ultimately became Biden, during the 2008 campaign.

When asked if all the time he has spent with Biden has inhibited his ability to report on him fairly, Memoli said his “over-understanding” of the candidate allows him to better scrutinize the former vice president.

“I’ve been called out once or twice during the campaign because I’m familiar to him, and because maybe I get the first question before others do,” Memoli said. “But I don’t think I’ve found it hard to cover him with scrutiny and critically at all.”

“If anything, having a close relationship and having covered him for a long time, I think they expected maybe I would be easier on them at a very difficult time. But in fact knowing him as well as I did, it gave me more insight into the campaign and things that were going wrong than perhaps other reporters at the time,” he added.

Memoli was recently in Iowa with Biden at a campaign stop in Des Moines. Earlier in the campaign, after the Iowa caucuses, Biden described his fourth-place finish as a “gut punch.”

“Being back in Iowa, I am reminded of where we were,” Memoli told The Hill. “It was pretty clear things were going south for him. In Iowa, and on caucus night and a week later in New Hampshire, I heard from folks on the campaign that my coverage was too critical of him.”

Biden leads Trump in national polls, but with smaller margins in key battleground states.

Tags 2020 election Barack Obama Biden whisperer Cable news election night Joe Biden

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