Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gum Flapping on CNN

[Media and DNC] Raised by a political junkie mother, I have fond memories of watching the Democratic National Convention on TV as a wee one, all in black and white with frequent static, commentator gaffes, and true drama. It was pretty much continuous coverage from 6 p.m. to closing in the '60s and '70s. So you got to hear every rambling speech, arguments over the party platform and even witness some of the histrionics--like delegates yelling at each other and bashing each other over the heads with placards. People smoked cigarettes on the convention floor. Great live stuff--Mad Men with a political agenda.

So here's where we stand today. In spite of 24/7 cable, endless online access and even a full hour or so prime time coverage from the conventional networks, we still get only a sliver of the coverage. Why? Because we have to listen to endless "analysis" by talking heads Wolf Blitzer, Chris Matthews, Campbell Brown and the gang. I was switching last night for three hours from Fox, to MSNBC to CNN and it never ended: The Dems needed to serve up the "red meat" to show McCain they are serious. Hillary had to hit one out of the park. Oh, and we were told--many times--what a kickass speaker the Mountain West's own Brian Schweitzer (Montana's Democratic governor) is. But how would we know for ourselves? Not once did the cameras cut away to let us see/hear him.

So here's the text of Schweitzer's speech. And I wasn't surprised to hear the guy brought the house down last night--I've heard him speak several times. He's a stemwinder speaker, but he's wrong about clean coal being the answer to our energy and environmental woes. Mostly because what he champions would take a shitload of water to accomplish, and we don't have it to spare in the West.

Anyway, it was frustrating for a convention geek like me to see Schweitzer's image on the video screen behind the CNN Gang of Five desk (or whatever the pithy name of their convention team is) and not to hear a word of it.

And yes, I know I could have had it all online in real time, and it's all over YouTube. But I prefer my convention and all the trimmings on the big flat screen in my living room, not on a laptop screen, thanks ever so much.

We have all this great technology but I'd take the old 1964 coverage in a heartbeat. At least it was raw and true and nicely unfiltered. (Holly Mullen)


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