The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, July 26, 2004

Convention TV coverage special pleading

There was a time when Democratic National Conventions were jam-packed with televisual spectacle. Unfortunately, that time was before the conventions were covered on TV [1].

Nowadays, conventions of both parties are meticulously crafted to extinguish the very slightest element of interest those scheduling prime-time network TV. Waxworks are less predictable.

And yet, when the networks take the hint, and broadcast the minimum they decently can, the whinging is incessant.

As from the LA Times' David Shaw today.

He leaves the heavy ranting against the networks to PBS' Jim Lehrer (whose network just happens to be providing gavel-to-gavel coverage), lobbing over some Old Media squibs against the presumption of the blogosphere.

The fact is that no one - pols, press or public - is very much interested in the issues: the pols are carefully crafting a piece of make-believe they hope will boost their party into the campaign proper post-Labor Day, and the press and public are looking for a vaudeville show. (Sandy Berger and his Amazing Bottomless Socks, for instance.)

But - hypocrite that he is - at the same time, the voter wants to see his candidates show themselves to be presidential, avoiding just those flubs and snafus which that selfsame voter demands as the price of giving attention to the campaign.

Meanwhile, the networks need to sell airtime, and know that re-runs of I Love Lucy are liable to rate higher than much of the doings on the floor of both conventions.

If the floor proceedings are vacuous, the issues tedious, the gossip sordid (FCC alert!) - how exactly are the networks supposed to produce paying convention coverage?

Shaw has nothing.

  1. Notably, the 1924 Convention, in which fatcat lawyer John W Davis was the compromise victor on the 103rd ballot, after William Jennings Bryan and Al Smith had fought each other to a standstill. The convention was in time for radio, though - there's an interesting piece on radio coverage of the '24 Convention.

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