Amid a “data dump” of incoming results from the largest mid term election in Fremont County’s since 1994, the entire media pool thought they had an exciting upset on their hands in the House District 55 race between incumbent, Republican Dave Miller and Libertarian candidate, Bethany Baldes.
As the computers updated in real-time, the HD55 race show “all 7 of 7 precincts reporting” and the media, which included County 10, Casper television stations, local radio and newspapers as well as the Associated Press, all began to file their reports.
“It was a shocker, and we were all working under the assumption that it was final,” explained veteran journalist, Ernie Over, a reporter for County 10. “Ultimately though, the County Clerk emerged from her office to turn the tables with the news that those numbers did not include absentee votes.”
By then, it was too late.
With the real-time nature of news outlets in 2018, platforms like County 10 had already published news of the upset to the community. Meanwhile, two local stations broadcast the errant news live on the air — one added it to their Facebook page. The Associated Press reporter also quickly made edits to his report before filing it.
While all this transpired, assuming she had clinched the race, Baldes addressed her supporters at a rally in Riverton thanking them for pushing her over the top in the voting.
“I want to personally apologize to Bethany and her supporters for having to endure that experience,” explained Jason Kintzler, CEO of Pitchengine, parent company of County 10. “She put up a great campaign and to have it dashed at the final minute must have been difficult.”
Kintzler debriefed with reporters Wednesday morning to get an idea of what happened.
“As we’ve seen over the years, providing instant news and information comes with its share of challenges. There are no longer layers of vetting and investigation happening in newsrooms.”
“Part of this is due to the speed of information in 2018, and part of it is tied to resources, especially at traditional news outlets,” he said.
According to Kintzler, Over and the other reporters at the County Courthouse Tuesday night were all subject to an unfortunate error of miscommunication.
“I pushed the publish button because we all thought it was final,” explained Over. “Unfortunately, there’s no way to edit a headline on Facebook unless it’s deleted, so we had to remove the post entirely.”
County 10 wants to congratulate every candidate on the respective races and especially the community for pouring out to vote in record numbers.