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permlink Democratic National Convention I

Democratic Convention I: Tom Shales of the Washington Post writes up the Big 3 Networks' "coverage" of the Democratic Convention:

Bill Clinton, Getting the Gang Ready to Rock and Roll
The networks decided not to carry Carter's speech, Nobel Prize winner or not, and to limit opening-night convention coverage to one hour. One hour. The cable networks supposedly take up the slack but it's a system that still bespeaks irresponsibility and shirking of civic duty by the broadcast networks.

They're busy, of course, with their trifling, noisy, violent, demeaning, crass, corny and meaningless summer reruns. The networks complain that the conventions have become repetitious and predictable; and their own programming isn't?...

..."Some of the prime-time lineup appears to be very partisan," CNN pretty-boy Bill Hemmer told commentator Jeff Greenfield on the network's morning show. Insights like these are so dazzling you really have to step back from the set to avoid having your eyebrows singed.

During the day, the cable networks reported predictably how predictable the convention was sure to be. ... Yes, the role of the political convention has changed, and television changed it years and years ago, and no, it's not likely major decisions will be made on live TV in front of the American people. But we've got enough "reality TV" now. How about letting the parties put on their shows and sitting back to see which one does the better job? Like there's some insidious harm or danger in that or something.
I think the whole TV news business has gone downhill since it's become thought of as a profit center. When you're a profit center, it's really your job to keep costs down, not to uncover and organize new information.

What better way to cut costs than to have hours and hours of people sitting in "roundtables" repeating catchphrases at each other? (CNN-US has fallen the furthest, from real reporting to endless meta-jabber. I'm told CNN-International still has some shreds of quality left.)

It's a brilliant solution to the $$ problem, really, but it's also the opposite of 'informative'.

When watching pundits on any major media channel, I'm often reminded of the famous formulation from a movie I've never seen, Billy Madison: (paraphrased) "Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to that."

The only sensible thing to do, from where I sit, is to TiVo the C-SPAN broadcasts of both conventions, with no attention-hogging, cynical, "don't go away!" drama queens getting in the way. I'd rather see the actual meat of what's happening -- namely, how all the different people who want votes present themselves under the best of conditions. I plan to do the same for the Republicans in September, even though my mind's made up.

(I should note that PBS' coverage does seem to be a cut above, but I still prefer the raw feed.)

Some of these speeches do matter; particularly Barack Obama's. (Here's audio.) It's a shame the 3 big networks didn't carry it.

Video streams of the major convention speeches are available on, if you missed them. permlink     1 comment(s)  
Not having cable, I've been watching the convention on PBS. Their coverage is much superior to the major networks, although I tend to dislike the two columnists assigned to Jim Lehrer. They are so *jaded*. Nothing seems to impress them.
      ...posted by Neil on July 29, 2004 4:20 PM
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