Networks ask South Carolina Democratic Party to open 'bubble' convention to which MSNBC was given exclusive broadcast rights

South Carolina is holding a 2019 State Democratic Party Convention which 21 of the current candidates for president plan to attend. However, the state party has given exclusive rights to live coverage of the event to only one news network: MSNBC. Other networks can apparently tape the proceedings but must not air anything for at least 3 hours after the event. Today, a group of excluded networks including C-Span, Fox News, CNN, CBS, and ABC sent a letter to the state party chair asking him to reconsider. TV Newser published the full letter:

The news organizations represented below wish to formally protest your decision to grant exclusive live television & streaming rights to Saturday’s state party convention to a single network, MSNBC. South Carolina is a critical state in the presidential nominating process and your convention is the largest gathering to date of the 2020 Democratic candidates. Because of this event’s importance to the voting public, we believe it should be made available to every accredited media outlet without embargoes, restrictions or other limitations.

The political parties have always had a tradition of open media access. Your decision to restrict live coverage of your state party convention to a single news organization is the antithesis of openness. It is also concerning that it could set a precedent that would end up seriously limiting citizen access to other key presidential electoral events.

The letter closes by asking the chairman to reverse the decision and open up the bubble convention to live coverage by all news outlets.

It’s not hard to see why the party wants to have this bubble convention. It gives Democrats the chance to spin whatever happens at the event on a friendly network for hours before anyone else is allowed to comment. The MSNBC coverage is being led by Joy Reid and Al Sharpton, which should give you some idea how this will be handled.

Frankly, I suspect the goal was to keep Fox News out of the event. But excluding just Fox would have invited a backlash from other networks who might decide to act in solidarity. All of that would have led to negative coverage of the event. So instead, the party gave the exclusive to MSNBC which keeps Fox News out at the expense of keeping everyone else out as well. Sorry, C-Span, sacrifices had to be made.

Here’s Howard Kurtz calling this “off the charts outrageous and just plain dumb.” Later he added, “Talk about living in a liberal bubble…” That’s what this convention should be called if it goes ahead with just MSNBC: The Bubble Convention.