Thanks to some fundraising woes, the Democrat National Convention had to be shortened from four days to three. The Republican National Convention remains a four-day program. But in the interest of fairness, the networks will only be covering three hours of each convention – and that means Ann Romney, who will speak at 10:30PM on Monday, August 27, has been cut from their broadcasts.
CBS plans instead to show a rerun of “Hawaii Five-O,” its hit police series. Viewers of NBC will see a new episode of “Grimm,” about a homicide detective with the supernatural ability to sense evil. And ABC plans to show “Castle,” a series about a best-selling mystery novelist who helps solve crimes.
The networks, which reap considerable advertising dollars even from summer reruns, have told the Romney campaign that they will broadcast an hour of convention coverage on the final three nights — but no more.
The Romney campaign is reportedly angry about the snub, and considering moving Ann to another night, though no schedule changes have been announced. The networks, for their part, argue that it’s not worth airing the extra night because it’s not as “high-drama” as the 2008 conventions, where the Democrat nomination hung in the balance until the eleventh hour and Sarah Palin burst onto the scene, electrifying the conservative base.
Add to that the overwhelming sense that the country is in a funk and that the presidential campaign cannot seem to rise above petty insults and blatant distortions, and there is a feeling at many of the news networks that Americans would rather be hearing about something — anything — else.
In an interview last week, Brian Williams, the NBC News anchor, thought for a moment when asked if it was possible to recapture Americans’ interest in the presidential election.
“I think if we could sprinkle in some Olympic events,” he deadpanned. “Floor vault is a personal favorite. Badminton, but it takes up a lot of floor space.”
But, turning serious, he acknowledged that “people have had it up to here” with political news. “I’d love more coverage of the conventions,” he said. “I also live in the real world.”
He’s not wrong, to be sure; the campaign process is so long now that Americans have been saturated with the 2012 race for the White House since mid-2011. But this is the time when interest tends to pique, as the election itself draws nearer. Moreover, Ann Romney is a humanizing influence in her husband's life. He's often accused of being "robotic" or "emotionless," and his graceful, lovely wife detracts from the cold, calculating CEO image that so many on the Left have peddled.
Perhaps the networks really are trying to balance their coverage -- and hey, it's better than the Democrats' situation, where the NFL season opener will preempt the Wednesday night festivities on NBC. But it’s hard to imagine that the networks would have ignored Michelle Obama’s speech, even if it meant broadcasting a bit of extra time from the Democrats’ convention, given that it’s a chance to see the [potential, in Ann’s case] First Lady in action.