Monday, August 17, 2020

Convention coverage

I still find it strange that the broadcast networks are only carrying one hour of convention coverage a night. It makes total sense but STILL.

All of the cable networks will stay carry extensive coverage, but they're basically covering nothing.

The reduced network airtime is certainly understandable. There really IS no convention. Due to the Trumpvirus there are no jammed convention floors. There are no cheers and bands. And any spectacle is gone.

I used to love the political conventions as a kid. Network coverage in Los Angeles began at 4:00 and went well into midnight. There were reporters on the floor, wearing headset microphones and antennas sticking out their heads. Very “My Favorite Martian.” One time, John Chancellor of NBC News was arrested on the floor while on camera. He signed off by saying, “This is John Chancellor, NBC News, somewhere in custody.”

I lived for shit like that!

The night of the nomination was always fun. Each state got up and did a five-minute sell job on themselves. “Mr. Chairman, the great state of Idaho, home of potatoes, a blue football field, the Monument to a Mythical Massacre, the Atomic Burger, and current residence of revered whack-job Sarah Palin, casts twenty votes the next president of these here United States….”

In 1960 in Los Angeles, Kennedy needed several rounds to be selected and that was with some deep dish backroom caucuses. There was real drama.

Now everything has long been decided and the only suspense is whether Trump will say something else staggeringly stupid like the pandemic of 1917 ended World War II (which didn’t begin until 1939 you fucking moron).

I am sure publicly the broadcast networks will bemoan the fact that there’s no wall-to-wall coverage to cover, but privately they’re all doing cartwheels. They lose a ton of money carrying conventions. It’s a necessary evil. ABC would much rather air TO THE TELL THE TRUTH than the yahoo from Idaho.

Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite, and Huntley-Brinkley, and great Americana. Save the balloons.  I bet Netflix really kicks ass this week and next.

25 comments :

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were first paired up at the 1956 conventions. They were so well received that NBC replaced John Cameron Swayze's nghtly "Camel News Caravan" with "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" in October. They remained a team until Huntley's retirement in 1970.

slgc said...

If Americana celebrating mythical events is your thing, check out the War of the Worlds monument the next time you're in Central NJ - https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2749

Lemuel said...

And gone are the days of Hunter Thompson's 1972 campaign coverage, where he wrote "I split a cap of black acid with John Chancellor."

Brian Phillips said...

Political conventions sometimes served as a harbinger of how the Presidential Election was going to turn out.

Walter Mondale was feted by South Dakota's delegates this way. A man in a shirt, tie, pants and an Native American Headdress said the following:

"We, the great state of South Dakota cast all of our delegates for Senator Walter MONDOLE!"

I knew the Democrats were doomed at that point.

Troy McClure said...

I can imagine schools in the Bible Belt have now altered their teaching materials to be in line with the pronouncements of their orange messiah.

"Kids, you all did really good on last week's test. But not you, Johnny. You wrote that there were no airports in 1775. You called our president a liar. Go stand in the corner, you homosexual liberal."

"Today we're going to learn about how the 1917 flu ended World War II, as our president has taught us."

"For homework, write a 100 word essay about why Kamala Harris isn't American and can't be vice president."

Mike Barer said...

I remember when in 1968, the youth, who were disillusioned with Humphrey, decided to attempt to put Julian Bond up for the VP nomination, Humphrey's choice was Muskie and he would ultimately win. Bond dropped out, maybe because some of the rank and file "suggested" that he do so. I don't think that ever happened again.

Troy McClure said...

John Chancellor's arrest starts at the 1:57 mark.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TI1RW_9G7Q

VP81955 said...

Let's not forget how ABC countered its two rivals in 1968 by "teaming" William F. Buckley Jr. with Gore Vidal for commentary segments during the GOP convention in Miami Beach and its tumultuous Democratic counterpart in Chicago. Boy, did the sparks fly.

Y. Knott said...

I'm sorry you live in a country with a moron in charge. If it's any consolation, it's frustrating for the rest of us too.

Also, the flu pandemic was in 1918 and 1919. Not 1917. You wouldn't expect the moron-in-charge to actually get something right, would you?

Jeff Boice said...

Different time, unfortunately. Political conventions used to conduct important business-they settled rules and delegate disputes, drafted the party platform (which would be ignored for the remainder of the campaign), then choose the presidential ticket. The 80's was when they devolved into a fluff festival.









Liggie said...

I enjoy watching CBC's coverage of Canada's (a parliamentary democracy) party leader conventions, because you actually see things happen and there's sports-like color.

The hundreds-strong delegates in the arena are all wearing different items for their candidates (yellow T-shirts for Jones, blue scarves for Smith, green hats for Wilson, etc.), and they tally the ballot choices for party leader. If there's no first-ballot majority, the eliminated last-place candidate decides who they're supporting in the run-off, and their delegates choosing to follow suit don the endorsee's T-shirt/scarf/hat/whatever. This proceeds until there's a majority winner, who becomes the party's candidate in the next general election. A total dream for Canadian promotional marketing companies.

Anonymous said...

The 1968 Democratic Convention, where Buckley said he would sock Gore Vidal in his goddam face on television, essentially elected Richard Nixon president over Hubert Humphrey, who had a better liberal record than LBJ or the Kennedys.
Nice move, Liberal Democrats and SDS.

John Corcoran, Jr. said...

I dunno, Ken. In 2016 there was the usual convention folderol, plenty of laughing and scratching and waving of pennants and the country ended up with Donald J. Trump. Sooooo....

J Lee said...

Jimmy Carter at the DNC convention in 1980 calling the former Minnesota senator and vice-president "Hubert Horatio Hornblower", as part of what was supposed to be a big applause line, may have been a hint at Carter's naval background, but on the 1-to-10 douche chill faux pas scale it was about an 11.

Unknown said...

I don't miss the convention. Ties up the TV for blow hards.
I always thought that for presidential elections, that 1/2 of the money they receive for campaigning, goes to schools. Do we need more print ads, or TV commercials, or radio ads? How 'bout upgrading schools?

Also, presidential campaigns should be like stock car racing, with money. They can only raise, say $200 million, and that is all they can spend. Everyone on equal footing, stock cash, use it wisely.

.

-bee said...

Pre-cable, it was much, MUCH harder to avoid the convention broadcasts, all prime time, all networks, Monday to Friday.

So we were sort of a captive audience and I'm grateful for it because being a kid at the time, I might not have watched otherwise. But I came to really enjoy and appreciate the process, the spectacle, the speeches.

And in those days network news departments were still actually competing with each other and they strove to outdo each other so it was in their interest to make things interesting.

There must be good things about having channels that are specifically 'news' but I think it has ended up really ghettoizing crucial political processes to just a fraction of people who are really interested. If I were a kid now I doubt I would become at all engaged with the conventions.

Buttermilk Sky said...

"Guam...where America's day begins..."

I'll miss that.

I can just remember 1964 in Atlantic City, and Fannie Lou Hamer fighting to get the Freedom Democratic Party delegates seated in place of the regular (white) Democrats from Mississippi. Now THAT was drama.

Al in PDX said...

I'm with you, Buttermilk, in that I also remember the credentials fight in 1964 (yes kids, they even showed that live). As a 9-year-old, I didn't understand all of it, but could somehow tell that it was important.

Anonymous said...

Julian Bond wasn't yet 35, ie too young to be POTUS or VP q

Mike Barer said...

You know that JFK got a floor nomination to be on the ticket with Adlai Stevenson in 1956? Eventually Estes K got the nod. I guess that was quite common back in the day.
I think you are right about Bond. Back to a '56, Kennedy could have added a little charisma to the Stevenson ticket.

Mike Barer said...

PS, I read about it Kennedy's VP attempt. It was before I was born.

Brian said...

Hansard is the edited verbatim report of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

What, does one imagine, got edited when the cries of opposition arose? Here is an exchange from 1895:

"But what other objection could be raised to my hon. Friend? Are we going back to the old cry, raised, I think, at the very beginning of this century, that in better times it was the custom to select a Speaker from the landed interest. [Opposition Cries of "Oh, oh!" A voice: "Very bad form," and Counter Cheers.]"

Brian said...

Troy:

Here is what some kiddies were singing way back when:
https://lpcoverlover.com/2008/09/09/moa-sounds/

TodBrowning said...

Stan Freberg wrote a great satire on political conventions, on the CBS Radio Workshop, Colloguy #3 found here on youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Atoy8Ebvn_I

mike said...

No, what elected Nixon was his people convincing the South Vietnamese leaders that they'd get a better deal under a Nixon administration. Treasonous, but SOP.