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August 27, 2008
A grain or two of salt

It's interesting having the convention right here in our little town. Denver, while certainly a sizeable city, is small enough to let someone paying attention identify the differences between what shows up in the "news" and what really happened.

For instance, the 15,000 or whatever members of the "press" who showed up in town for the convention? Most of them came here eager to cover protests and riots and civil unrest. The kind of drama that makes good television and dramatic headlines.

And you know what? There are protests. And protesters. And really no drama or turmoil that hasn't been created by the over-preparation of the local and imported police forces. (Seriously, guys. Scale back on the riot gear a bit. And thin out those lines. If you weren't creating an impenetrable barrier of guns & shields, half those people would have dropped out of the march by now, in favor of breakfast and a cold drink at some nearby café.)

There's only one protest group that has its heart set on creating a turmoil, and they're only about 1000 strong. They're not really doing anything except standing around together sometimes, but they're getting the kind of press coverage you'd expect for a group of 10,000, well-organized and violent demonstrators.

They did manage to trick the cops into action the other night. While none of the protesters were really anxious to be the first to act, they were dying for the cops to start something so they could scream about how they were being all oppressed. They stood around in a park (to be fair, some of them were holding rocks) and enticed the cops into strolling through the crowd (in groups) (and full riot gear) until enough scuffling started that the cops felt justified in hauling a hundred or so of the group into custody.

No, I don't have any sympathy for that group. Why should I? Their stated aim is to "recreate 68" which is entirely lame. It suggests that their real goal is to get themselves in the history books. They're not struggling for any kind of peace or justice or equality. Just violence.

Anyhow. The media is playing it up like a major riot took place, which just isn't true. But, as I said before, the media is dying for some drama and they've having to take what they can get.

There's just not a lot of passionate protesting going on. We've had an anti-war group. You can't say they were protesting the Democrats, though. They were just taking advantage of the publicity to let the DNC and the viewers of random networks know that Denver contains people who are anti-war.

There was some kind of pro-Hillary march, but most of the "if I can't have Hillary, I'll have no one (or McCain)" stuff is smoke and mirrors. I can't imagine there are many people who honestly feel that way, but the Right has taken the idea and the "proof" of a couple of random television interviews with disgruntled HC supporters and they're doing their best, by pushing it at the press and the broadcast media, to make a Movement out of it.

I'm thinking there are a number of people dumb enough to fall for a trick like that, too. Some of them will believe it's real of course. I know of supporters who are worriedly clinging onto the Hillary for President bandwagon--aware that they're probably being used by the Right but not quite sure enough to be willing to look like they're "abandoning" Clinton.

I have no idea why they're afraid that acting like mature adults will be a problem. It's politics, okay? You win some, you lose some, but you never pee in a pool you might want to swim in later. She lost the race for the nomination. From what I can tell, she's taking it like a grown-up. Her supporters need to do the same thing.

I don't tell them that, though. None of my business. (Anyhow, some of them are my friends.)

And then there's the "news" factor. A convention alternates between the star turns and hours of posturing and speechifying by lesser lights.

Some of the news teams seem to have done their homework and are prepared for a three-day stint when they'll have to provide their own drama, but others, not so much. One of the Unprepared wound up interviewing a water bottle yesterday morning. How unprofessional do you have to be not to come with prepared material you can use during the slower moments?

Or, you know, just because the Big Names aren't on stage at the moment, that doesn't mean you can't cover whatever is going on. If you're going to cover the convention, cover it. Broadcast your coverage only when the convention is in session, and then cover what happens. You might not find it interesting, but it's not being run to amuse you.

Mostly, though, I think that a sane convention, run by adults who are focused on the business at hand, isn't riveting material for news broadcasters. They want sound bites and visual pizzazz. All they're getting is serious people discussing serious problems.

In fact, the national networks seem to spend as much or more time talking to/about Republicans as they do on the convention. It will be interesting to see if they give Democrats the same amount of coverage during the Republican convention, don't you think?

I mean, I'm not saying that the press is biased or anything. But?

On Sunday a story broke about the cops arresting a guy in town to target Mr. Obama. He tried to check into a hotel while he was toting guns & ammo. Then they talked about two men--and then it was four men, arrested at a local hotel. And about the armament they were carrying. (Guns aside, they must have been reasonably serious about it all. I mean, one of them jumped out of a sixth floor window, trying to escape the cops.)

The next day's front page headline on the local Rocky Mountain News newspaper? McCain Target of Threats

A prisoner sent him a mean letter with "powder" in it.

So, you know, don't believe what you head about secret bias in the press. They're generally quite openly in support of the Right.

More locally, a local Radio Station Person has embarrassed the entire city. The RSP managed to buy, bribe, or steal a news anchor's room number out of a hotel employee and called the news anchor at some ungodly hour of the morning, trying to bully an interview out of him.

Because, how obnoxious and counter-productive is that?

I mean, what kind of lame-assed loser thinks they're going to get an interview that way? The RSP called the news anchor at the crack of dawn, put the poor guy on the air, and then tried to use that "we're on the air and people are listening" thing to bully him into setting an interview time. If I were the news anchor? I'd give an interview to every radio station in town except that one. On the other hand, what seems clear is that the RSP did not want an interview. He wanted an incident.

I hope the hotel employee/employees who wind up getting fired for handing out confidential information feel like they made a good bargain.

And that's about all I have to say about the convention at this point. Except to admit that I bitterly regret that my computer at the office has no sound card. If it did, I'd be streaming some of the all-day coverage.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:23 AM