Still holding out, however, was CNN. The race was too close to call, an onscreen graphic informed viewers.
You have to give the network credit. It takes an admirable combination of guts and principle to stick to your own projection and not just follow the pack in a highly competitive news environment where everyone rushes to be first — occasionally at the expense of accuracy.
But let’s not kid ourselves — by 5:15, basically everyone had concluded that Clinton was the winner. The candidate certainly had. At 5:16, she tweeted about the win, giving credit to her backers.
To everyone who turned out in every corner of Nevada with determination and heart: This is your win. Thank you. -H— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 20, 2016
And at 5:24, she tweeted a second message referring to the victory, along with a photograph that showed her smiling with Nevada supporters. (However, as the Post's Abby Phillip astutely pointed out to me later, the picture does not appear to be a reaction shot; Clinton wore a different outfit on Saturday.)
So it was rather silly when, at 5:26, CNN finally called the race, showed a jubilant scene at Clinton headquarters and suggested — preposterously — that its projection was what had started the festivities.
Anchor Wolf Blitzer tossed to reporter Brianna Keilar at Clinton HQ, noted the cheering and said with complete seriousness: “They just got word of our projection.” Keilar added that the televisions in the room were tuned to CNN.
I’m sure they were. And Phillip, who was there, confirmed that CNN's projection drew cheers and that some supporters who had seen the earlier reports of a Clinton victory hadn't been sure that the results were official.
But come on. By the time CNN declared Clinton the winner, the news was almost a half-hour old. Clinton herself had already tweeted about her victory — twice. The party had started. Many Clinton backers in Nevada and elsewhere were whooping it up well before CNN joined other media in calling the race.
CNN did well to hold off on reporting the result until it was absolutely certain, but let’s not pretend that Clinton’s fans were equally cautious.