Republican National Convention — Tampa, Florida
Earlier today, House Speaker John Boehner, who is also the Republican National Convention’s permanent chairman, called into question the usefulness of a traditional, four-day convention in the context of today’s media age:
These are very expensive propositions to put on. I think that given as much news people get today and the way they get their news, I’m not sure that having a four-day convention for the future makes a lot of sense.
Boehner may be on to something here. The purpose of a convention is to give the party an opportunity to present its message and candidate directly to the American people, without the interference of reporters or other campaigns. But that model relies on an American public which gets the bulk of its news from TV.
These days, the Big Three TV news organizations only report from conventions during the evenings, when the party’s biggest names give their speeches. Oftentimes, the television media doesn’t even cover all of these speeches (as the recent kerfuffle over the big three broadcasters’ refusal to cover Ann Romney’s speech shows).
When a political party knows that its target audience can only gets its convention news from one source—TV—it’s easy to script a major convention that showcases all the party’s current, former, and upcoming leaders. It’s almost like writing a TV show: The “Why the Democratic/Republican Party is So Awesome” show.
But when your audience gets its news from a variety of sources — particularly those new media/blogger types — it’s impossible to control the script. If you can’t control the script, you can’t control the message. And if you can’t control the message, what’s the point? Especially when it costs the party $55 million to put it all together, not to mention a $50 million cost to the taxpayers for security purposes.