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Political Conventions: Would the Dog Stop Wagging if the Tail Was Cut Off?

party.jpgEver wonder what would happen if politicians threw a convention and nobody covered it? Not that it matters since it’s unlikely we’ll ever find out in a 24 hour media age where even the most pathetic minutae is worthy of reportage (we use that term loosely), but it’s something that Slate‘s Jack Shafer is advocating (he’s also convinced the reason John Edwards isn’t being given a speech slot this year is because “voters finally want to hear him talk”).

If the political press corps were honest, they’d start every convention story with the finding that nothing important happened that day and that your attention is not needed…Instead, they satisfy themselves by being the co-producers of a bad reality-TV show about the coronation of a man who would be king.
So why don’t they? Because, it’s a party!
It’s like a vacation, only no spouses! There’s free food, plenty of booze, nice hotels, lots of pals in the press and politics dishing gossip, and the assignment is easy to report. Ferguson concludes that political conventions exist only to make the second convention — the “journalists’ convention” — possible.
A number of other people appear to concur with the latter, and judging by how many Denver event invites have landed in our inbox they seem to be correct. However, if Forbes is correct, it’s going to a smaller “second” convention than in year’s past since due to budget cuts everyone is sending less people. Anyway, does it matter? Maybe everyone should just take a page from NBC’s Olympic coverage and call it live from a television in the basement thousands of miles away.

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