DAVID BIANCULLI

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Democratic National Convention Day 3: Broadcast TV Missed the Best Parts
August 28, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
hillary-acclamation-clear.jpgBy giving an hour, and only an hour, of prime-time coverage to political conventions in 2008, the commercial broadcast networks are condensing themselves into relative irrelevance. Two of Wednesday's most anticipated, dramatic and historic events at the Democratic National Convention -- Barack Obama being nominated by acclamation by Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton's suppportive speech -- occurred when CBS, NBC and ABC weren't televising.

How is a news organization supposed to maintain and strengthen its brand, when it's not around when you need and expect it?

Viewers have to switch channels, more and more, to find out what they're missing elsewhere. On Wednesday, CNN thought enough of Melissa Etheridge's rousing musical medley (which included "Give Peace a Chance" and reclaimed "Born in the USA") to televise it intact, but no one else did. Except, of course, for C-SPAN, which showed everything, without comment. Increasingly, that was the most satisfying place to turn.

bll-clinton.jpg

Steven Spielberg's film about war veterans, which featured and was narrated by Tom Hanks? CNN showed it, too, and so did PBS. But Fox News and MSNBC ignored both Etheridge and the Spielberg film, and also ignored the prime-time speech by John Kerry (CNN showed part of Kerry's address, and PBS showed all of it). And Bill Clinton's speech? On CBS, NBC and ABC, it was pretty much reduced to sound-bite replays.

The strangest thing last night was at the culmination of the night, during the applause following Obama's surprise appearance. Fox News said nothing. Nothing. For more than a minute, just letting the natural sound run.

msnbc-clear-duo.jpgOn MSNBC, meanwhile, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews have begun to snap at each other more frequently and obviously. Three days into this convention, they've become the most visibly uncomfortable anchor team since Dan Rather and Connie Chung. And with another week and another convention yet to go, Olbermann and Matthews may eclipse Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters as the most obviously contentious anchor team in TV history.

The Democrats have put on a show of unity this week -- but at MSNBC, they're demonstrating, by example, just how hard that can be to pull off.

 

1 Comment

 

Bernie said:

For a complete rundown of the infighting at MSNBC, see last night's Daily Show: http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=183498&title=media-analysis-unity

Comment posted on August 28, 2008 10:18 AM

 
 
 
 
 
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