TV swamps convention with blather
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
As President Bush's acceptance speech tonight closes the Republican convention and sends us full speed into the final electoral push, would it be too much to ask one tiny favor of TV's anchors, analysts and pundits?
In the name of all that's holy, shut up.
When exactly did the primary goal of journalists become not talking to news-makers, but talking over them? CNN, MSNBC and Fox News boast that they're covering an event the broadcast networks are ignoring. But they're not so much covering it as smothering it, using the convention as fodder for a 24-hour run of radio-talk-with-pictures. Unless you're one of the privileged big-draw speakers in the show's final hour, you're not just ignored — you're treated as an annoyance.
This rejection of gavel-to-gavel coverage, which survives on C-SPAN alone, might be defensible if real reporting had taken its place. But it's rare when anyone conducts an actual news-making interview — the kind where a reporter gets someone to reveal something we didn't already know. What passes for interviewing today is conversation — unchallenged speculation combined with the repetition of rock-hard "talking point" positions we all know by heart.
No one is less interested in the proceedings around him than Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, but at least his disinterest crosses party lines: He has given no more time to the Republican speeches than he did to the Democrats. Nothing anyone had to say from the podium Wednesday could distract O'Reilly from the evening's appointed tasks: flattering Rudy Giuliani, patronizing Bono, attacking "left-wing" New York Magazine and dismissing New York protestors as "loons."
Still, when it comes to luxuriating in the sound of your own voice, even O'Reilly must bow to MSNBC's Chris Matthews. In one of the convention's more bizarre exchanges, Matthews interrupted a Joe Scarborough screed about immigration Tuesday to ask, "Who are your favorite immigrants?" Luckily for a seemingly nonplused Scarborough, he didn't have to answer, as the question was merely an excuse for Matthews to tell us, "Mine are the West Africans." No doubt they were thrilled to hear it.
While it's shameful that the broadcast networks can only be bothered to devote an hour tonight to the Republican convention, the cutback does have advantages. The compressed time frame means you'll hear nothing but the speech and, at most, some quick snatches of instant analysis. Anyway, if this is what convention coverage looks like in the new age, better the networks stick to entertainment.
Entertainment, after all, is what the cable channels are really doing. They're just not doing it well.
Doesn't apply to anything involving Zell Miller but I agree with it.
Is actually going to PRINT that? WTF.
Dissing thier own stepchile'?. OMGawd.