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Monday, July 18, 2016

Conventional Wisdom

I'm sure I've written about this before.  This isn't this blog's first presidential election cycle.  It turns 12 in November.

The Republican National Convention begins today in Cleveland.  The Democrats get their turn next week in Philadelphia.

I've always wanted to cover one.

I was a politics and news junkie as a kid.  It was a treat to see the way the networks had things set up--the anchor desks in the sky boxes, the headsets on the floor reporters, the bulky wireless gear, which was state of the art at the time..  In my house, it was Cronkite and there was no other.  CBS always brought out the big guns to roam the floor and sniff out news-- Mike Wallace, Dan Rather, Harry Reasoner...  I didn't understand much of I was seeing, but it was still fun to watch.

As the years passed, conventions became less and less newsworthy (although this year could be the exception).  Most things were settled by the time the convention started.  ABC's Ted Koppel left the 1996 Republican convention in San Diego because he claimed there was no news there.  He was right.  The Democratic convention that year was the same thing.  Bill Clinton cruised to a relatively easy win over Bob Dole in November.

Conventions have become television shows-- scripted, controlled, extremely limited access to the big names.  Watch the coverage this month.  You'll see more reporters interviewing reporters.  You'll see commentators yammering on.  That's about it.

We'll have ABC, CNN and our sister stations looking for Pennsylvania angles for the next two weeks.  The more interesting stories are here at home.  Polls show Pennsylvania is in play this cycle, and that should make the next 112 days in northeastern and central Pennsylvania far more interesting than anything in Cleveland or Philadelphia.