Convention: Fox's news decisions, Bill Clinton's return

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

A look at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday through a media lens:

It was an emotionally charged moment when mothers of black Americans killed in police-involved shootings took the stage to address the convention. Delegates chanted, "Black lives matter," and cameras caught tears streaming down the cheeks of some audience members.

CNN, MSNBC and PBS all aired the presentation (it was before the broadcast networks came on the air), but Fox News Channel didn't. Instead, Fox showed an interview with Karl Rove about demonstrations outside the convention, and a Bill O'Reilly-moderated segment about immigration.

Similarly, Fox did not air the convention speech by Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay about how it's possible to simultaneously address the needs of police and concerns by minority communities. Their network rivals did.

Since it was a discussion about a hot news issue, the omissions leave Fox vulnerable to charges that the network is reluctant to expose its Republican-dominated audience to opinions they may disagree with. A Fox spokeswoman noted that Megyn Kelly had a later discussion about the segments on her show.

MOVING A CROWD: Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace and CNN's David Axelrod had identical observations to explain why they thought former President Bill Clinton's convention speech in support of his wife worked. Clinton, they said, is a master at turning a large auditorium into an intimate room. That's precisely the feeling you want to create, recognizing the most important audience is not in the auditorium, but watching from their living rooms.

INSIDE LOOK: CNN's habit of larding its on-air staff with former associates of politicians has its weaknesses, but Tuesday it was illuminating to have former Bill Clinton aide Paul Begala available to talk about how his ex-boss prepares for a speech. "He's Southern to the core," Begala said. "You think he's taking a lazy trip down the river and at the end, he's told you the meaning of life."

SHOW BIZ: Donald Trump had his smoke-machine-aided convention entrance to Queen's "We Are the Champions." Hillary Clinton had her own show biz moment Tuesday night. The Philadelphia arena's large screen flashed pictures of American presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama — all men — then Clinton appeared live via satellite after a special effect of glass shattering. The glass ceiling, remember? It's a reminder that modern conventions are entertainment spectacles as much as political meetings.

SANDERS' MOMENT: "There's more unity at this moment than there was a day ago," said Fox's Brit Hume after Bernie Sanders ended the roll call by proposing that Hillary Clinton be declared the nominee by acclamation. Maybe, but there was no missing Sanders' tight smile and quick escape off the convention floor. Fox floor reporter Bill Hemmer fruitlessly searched for Sanders.

STAR POWER: Appearances by the likes of Lena Dunham, Sarah Silverman, Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys, Banks, Paul Simon and America Ferrara during the first two days of the Democratic convention left some politicos star-struck. MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace injected a reality check: It's not exactly newsworthy when Hollywood stars turn out to support Democrats, she said.