This is why television networks are only carrying limited coverage of the conventions

Like everything else in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, political conventions are different. This summer both the Democrat and Republican presidential conventions are mostly virtual events. Television news networks had to make a decision about how much time to devote to coverage each night. Cable news networks are giving the Democrat convention two hours in primetime while alphabet broadcast networks are only giving it one hour’s coverage. Fox News Channel isn’t running live coverage like CNN.

Actually, the alphabet broadcast networks aren’t really giving true, traditional coverage. They are showing parts of it and concentrating on commentators delivering opinions on what is being shown. I watched CNN for about an hour of its coverage and that network carried the convention as well as can be expected, using commentators during breaks. FNC stopped its discussion panel to carry John Kerry’s speech. So, you get the point – instead of constant coverage for a solid three hours in primetime television like in the old days, coverage is much less this year. It’s just as well because the Democrat convention is a snore. How much arrogant virtue-signaling is a person expected to take?

I watched AOC’s speech which was used to second the nomination for Bernie Sanders. I watched Bill Clinton’s speech which was used to bludgeon Trump for a lack of leadership and for having a chaotic administration. I’m old enough to remember reading all the stories of a very chaotic Clinton administration, especially in the first term, so that was ironic. And, John Kerry criticizing Trump for his handling of Iran and his alleged mishandling of the U.S. military was beyond the pale. Winter Soldier Kerry is a nasty, clueless man. The Obama-Biden administration watched ISIS develop and strengthen. They led from behind while Trump does not. I watched Colin Powell announce his support of Biden. That wasn’t so unusual since Powell has endorsed the Democrat candidate for president in the last four elections. And, listening to Cindy McCain speaking about her late husband’s friendship with Biden wasn’t a surprise as she said she supports his candidacy but stopped short of endorsing him. She narrated a warm and fuzzy clip about Joe’s ability to work across the aisle. Jill Biden’s speech was good. She kept to an inspirational kind of script and didn’t mention Trump. Her background was a classroom and she focused on kids, her life with Joe, and her work as a teacher. It was a sharp contrast to the ugly speech Michelle Obama gave. When Joe joined her at the end of her time, he made a little slip when he tried to say, “I’m Jill Biden’s husband” but it came out garbled and sounded like Joe instead of Jill. Whatever.

Viewers get a flavor of the convention but it is a strange experience. It turns out, according to a piece in the Daily Beast, the networks were sweating covering this year’s conventions because they don’t really want to cover the GOP convention because of Trump. I know, we’re all shocked about that confession. Nonetheless, it is interesting that they cop to it, at least to the Daily Beast reporters. Broadcast networks haven’t covered political conventions as much as in years past because of the lack of viewership numbers and ad revenues. One hour per night was all that was provided during the last conventions. This year they worry about what will happen during the Republican convention coverage because of Trump. If networks gave Joe Biden’s convention two hours, they would have to give Donald Trump’s convention the same amount of time.

Multiple sources told The Daily Beast that when Democratic officials met with various broadcast network executives about their convention coverage plans, the executives stressed that they could not broadcast two hours each night in part because they then would have to give the same airtime to Trump, and all the wild unpredictability that might entail from an editorial perspective.

“We don’t know what that content is going to be,” was the line offered up, according to one source.

Of course, they know what the Democrats’ “content” will be. It is exactly the same as their own thoughts and opinions. They support Joe, too. The networks justify their contempt for covering Trump and the Republicans because they still don’t have final plans and schedules of speakers. Also, you know, the president lies and spreads propaganda. You knew that was coming. Never mind that Joe Biden plagiarizes and embellishes stories all the time. For years he even described the driver who was in a car crash with his first wife and daughter, ending in their deaths, as a drunk driver. The driver was not a drunk driver. The man’s family asked Biden for an apology for years and were denied it while the man was still alive.

The president has complicated editorial decisions for TV executives in part because of his penchant for peddling lies, misinformation, and conspiracy theories. Networks have come under intense scrutiny from media critics and Democrats for giving Trump unfiltered air time to spread propaganda and/or failing to fact-check some of his more dangerous claims in real-time.

That has been especially true during the coronavirus era, during which the president has routinely downplayed the severity of the pandemic, pushed unproven therapies, and attempted to discredit public-health experts that contradict his preferred policies.

The RNC also promises to be a hodgepodge of Trump sycophants, coronavirus skeptics, and alleged victims of “cancel culture.” In addition to a slate of expected speakers, including former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, Sens. Tim Scott and Joni Ernst, and Alice Johnson, the criminal-justice reform activist whose life sentence was commuted by Trump, others reportedly set to address the crowd include the St. Louis couple who were charged with unlawful use of a weapon after pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters earlier this year, and Nick Sandmann, a high-school graduate who became a conservative cause célèbre after he sued media outlets for defamation following video of his face-to-face encounter with a Native American activist in D.C.

The line-up sounds pretty good to me so far. What really concerns the networks is that Trump is a performer and knows how to stage an event. He delivers higher rating numbers to FNC when they cover his events than anyone else does. Record numbers. And millions of people tune in online to watch his events. That doesn’t happen with Sleepy Joe. How are the networks going to do their part to get Joe elected in November if Trump is getting the higher ratings? That is their real concern. Funny how the speakers for Biden aren’t labeled as “sycophants”, right? No. Not really. It’s expected at this point.

The networks should want Trump’s ability to bring eyes to their broadcasts. The ratings for the first night of the DNC convention were down 25% from 2016. Too bad they are so Trump deranged, like the other Democrats. The networks and Biden campaign have little more than Orange Man bad and Biden is good and compassionate. That’s all the two nights of the Democrat convention have boiled down to so far. It sure isn’t good tv.