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Reporter’s notebook: I sat ringside while Hillary’s election-night party was pooped

Still waiting: The empty stage at Hillary Clinton’s election party, where she was supposed to make a speech but never showed.
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And you thought your election party sucked.

I was one of the journalists who attended Hillary Clinton’s election-night event, witnessing first-hand as the mood amongst the press and Clinton’s biggest fans gave way from a festive air of excitement to the tense, tearful realization that there would be no celebration, no tears of joy, and no first woman president.

When I arrived at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center — where Clinton was supposed to give her election-night remarks under the arena’s oh-so-apt glass ceiling — supporters who hadn’t scored seats were gathering outside the police barricades decked out in “I’m with her” and “Nasty woman” merchandise. They were jovial and smiling, brimming with confidence that they were going to be part of history.

Inside, the press room and lobby were bustling with bright-eyed reporters and guests, many looking forward to witnessing a moment for the history books.

This paper was disgracefully not given any seats in the media filing center, but we “borrowed” the ones assigned to Telemundo, whose reporters never showed up to claim them. Looking back, maybe they already knew what was coming.

Earlier in the evening, Mayor DeBlasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito revved up crowd members, who roared in cheers as television networks flashed the scene at the convention hall across the big screen. But by the time Gov. Cuomo and singer Katy Perry took the stage at around 9:30 pm, their remarks landed with a heavy thud.

The reporters in the media center just seemed annoyed that the televisions were showing these rah-rah speeches instead of the news coverage. People’s eyes were glued to the screens as their eyebrows furrowed and whispers of “He can’t win” filled the room.

Then Clinton won Virginia and members of the press erupted in cheers and the mood in the room lightened a bit — but not for long.

At around 10:15 pm, the monitors showed a video of celebrities singing Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” — Clinton’s campaign anthem — but instead of coming off as cute and amusing, it seemed out of place and annoying. It was too soon.

By 11:30 pm, you could hear a pin drop. More and more reporters started hitting the bar to ease their anxiety. Whispers of “Do you think he’ll actually win?” “What would even happen?” filled the room.

And then we waited, and waited, and waited. At 1:15 am, Clinton’s path to the White House seemed all but scorched. The crowd thinned out.

Outside the convention center, the streets were completely empty. Police officers gave half-hearted “Have a good night”s and exchanged looks of shock and disappointment with the departing crowd members.

No one wanted to talk with a reporter.

“I’m too depressed,” said one woman sporting an “I’m with her” shirt and she made a beeline for the door.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Posted 12:00 am, November 10, 2016
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