I've been going to political conventions -- Democrat and Republican -- for 32 years, and I've never seen a bigger disconnect between what is actually going on at the convention and the way it is being reported.
The networks decided to skip the opening night of the Republican convention. So unless you were one of the fewer than 10 million Americans who tuned into Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC or C-SPAN to hear Sen. John McCain or former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, you'd have no idea how powerful a case these two men made for George W. Bush's re-election.
Inside Madison Square Garden, the crowds were passionate, hanging on every word of Rudy's long oration, jumping to their feet when he promised "President Bush will make certain that we are combating terrorism at the source, beyond our shores, so we can reduce the risk of having to confront it in the streets of New York . ... President Bush will not allow countries that appear to have ignored the lessons of history and failed for over 30 years to stand up to terrorists, to dissuade us from what is necessary for our defense. He will not let them set our agenda. Under President Bush, America will lead rather than follow."
Even up in the nosebleed section where I watched the speech, the crowd's enthusiasm rocked the Garden. But the New York Times didn't see it that way. Instead the nation's "paper of record" reported: "There is only the finest of lines between invoking a disaster in which all New Yorkers, and all Americans, regardless of party, felt such a devastating stake, and exploiting it for partisan advantage. From morning to night, the Republicans strode proudly, even defiantly, right up to that line -- if not over it -- and the delegates responded with roaring approval."
In other words, Republicans were being their usual Neanderthal selves. Interestingly, the Times didn't feel the Democrats had exploited 9-11 for partisan purposes, despite some 100 mentions of 9-11 during the Democratic convention. "At their convention in Boston last month, the Democrats offered their own emotional tribute, with stirring music and videos, and delegates holding small flashlights simulating candles in the darkened hall. But that was nothing compared to the intense and personal speeches here," writes the Times, "and Mr. Bush has already faced criticism for using images of firefighters and the flag in early campaign advertising."
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
Be the first to read Linda Chavez's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.