Watchdog Blog

Carolyn Lewis: I’ll Go with C-Span for Convention Coverage

Posted at 11:35 am, August 28th, 2008
Carolyn Lewis Mug

I happen to like my Scotch straight up, unadulterated by ice or water. And I like my Convention coverage the same way. That’s why on the first two nights of the Democratic Convention I turned to C-Span, which offered without interruption what was going on at the stage level and also down on the floor.

On occasion I would flick over to CNN and MSNBC and even PBS, to see what was happening there. And predictably, even during the most interesting events there was a stream of yammering by TV reporters and pundits. Sometimes they were talking about whether Hillary Clinton would do this or that, even though they had to admit they didn’t know the answer and the answer would come on Tuesday night when Clinton would be speaking. Sometimes they would be interviewing a politician who predictably said the Democratic Party would unify itself. (Now that was newsworthy.)

What they were missing during their blather, was a lively parade of characters on the stage: Mike Fisher, the guy from Indiana who played host to Obama during the primary there; Tom Balanoff, Chicago president of the Service Employees International Union; Jerry Kellman, the community activist who first enlisted Obama to be a community organizer on Chicago’s Southside; even Lily Ledbetter, the woman who took her fight for equal pay up to the Supreme Court, where it faltered on a 5-4 vote. Some of the other channels missed the speech by former Republican Congressman Jim Leach when he related how in the past Congressional Republicans and Democrats found a way to work together for the common good. In short, they were missing the gritty human side of the Convention, the voices of ordinary people.

The other channels also failed to offer the flavor of what was happening on the floor, and the array of hats and pins and banners and the dancing to the lively music and the faces of all ages and colors and definitions. The media focus on the admitted small group of bitter angry people who couldn’t face the fact that Hillary Clinton was NOT the party’s choice, overrode the general mood of festivity and support for Obama.

Sure, it helps to know more than what the camera can show, and analysis is useful. But why not let the Convention be allowed to be itself, and then offer the palaver afterward? I for one preferred spending my time with Lily and Mike and Jerry, rather than the same old opinionators who already fill our screens overmuch.

I would also like to say hats off to the cable companies that fund C-Span and thus provide pure, unadulterated television while resisting the temptation to tamper with reality. C-Span also repeats coverage the day after for anybody who has trouble staying up late the night before.

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