There are very few instances in which I, a young person, will choose to watch network television. The exception this year was election night; in the exhausting days after, my eyes stayed glued to MSNBC’s flashing graphics as journalist Steve Kornacki zoomed in and out on an oversize map, doing hypothetical math to calculate the candidates’ odds of reaching 270 electoral votes.
Kornacki was not the only map dude on air that night, but he was — according to the internet and my colleagues at The Goods — the most attractive to watch. And on a night in which I needed as much comfort as possible, I switched streams from NBC (sorry not sorry, Chuck Todd) to MSNBC without a second thought.
As the hours dragged on, viewers began pointing out how Kornacki’s nerdishly disheveled energy was oddly soothing. He was always present even during breaks, on the corner of the screen dubbed the “Kornacki Cam.” His resilience was so astounding that people began to develop an unforeseen crush on the 41-year-old, as he engaged in the most unsexy activity of all time: explaining electoral math for hours on end.
I have watched enough 24-hour news coverage to have developed a mild crush on Steve Kornacki, send help.
— Emily VanDerWerff ♀️ (@emilyvdw) November 5, 2020
As a society, we have loved watching conventionally attractive people onscreen since the advent of films, but Kornacki doesn’t look like your typical movie star. His on-air outfit is similar to that of a college professor who’s just made tenure: white dress shirt with rolled-up sleeves, glasses, khakis, and striped tie. Under regular circumstances, Kornacki’s wonky aura might fade against the likes of David Muir and Anderson Cooper, broadcasters with chiseled jaws and distinguished features. This was election night, though, and Steve Kornacki was the reliable man many turned to with the most up-to-date information on the state of the race.
That infatuation has only magnified in later days, as viewers anxiously await vote updates from key battleground states. On Twitter, fans have put together Kornacki fancams — short, pink-hued videos of the journalist in action overlaid with sparkle effects and catchy pop tracks. CNN’s John King is another favorite, but more viewers seem to view him as a benevolent father-type rather than an out-and-out thirst object. The two men have fast-tracked their way to internet fame by virtue of explaining electoral maps to a very confused, very anxious public.
Some have argued that this collective Kornacki obsession is reflective of our anxiety-ridden reality: People have developed a mild crush on this bespectacled 41-year-old gentleman (who happens to be gay) as a sort of emotional coping mechanism for the political turbulence in our future. The election was called for Joe Biden this morning, and as the moment of national uncertainty likely begins to abate, so too will our fleeting feelings for Kornacki. Perhaps he’ll return to be Twitter’s boyfriend in another four year’s time, but until then, let’s hope Kornacki gets some actual rest and relaxation.