Conflict at the Convention? Look to MSNBC


The third day of the Democratic Convention provided drama, all right – but for the most part, you had to search to find it.  And some of the drama was provided not by the Democrats, but by the media.

Hillary Clinton proposed that Barack Obama be nominated by acclamation at 6:45 p.m. ET, smack in the middle of the network newscasts on the East Coast.  But the drama building up to that moment, and the historic impact, was enjoyable only on C-SPAN, where no one talked over the delegates’ charmingly individual roll call speeches.

Bill Clinton, who gave his address at 9:04 p.m., was a ready-for-prime-time player, and every cable news outlet presented his 21-minute speech nonstop.  But CBS, NBC and ABC stayed with regular programming, stubbornly refusing to cede their precious prime time. So by the time they joined the party – literally – at 10 p.m., the big-time anchors had to play catch-up, squeezing Obama’s nomination and snippets of Clinton’s speech into the same space as their setup for Joe Biden’s upcoming address.

On cable, time is less of a problem, but other problems exist. At CNN, the bench of correspondents is so deep that they never get more than a few minutes each, and often shout each other down during their shared time together.   It’s like watching The View, when you want to slow things down and shut things up by handing them what was shown on Breaking Bad as a “talking pillow.”

Nothing, though, beats the increasingly contentious behavior over at MSNBC, where Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann are making no secret of their oil-and-water chemistry. Olbermann also has voiced disdain for colleague Joe Scarborough (one of Olbermann’s remarks was picked up by The Daily Show last night), and the uneasy alliances at MSNBC make that network another must-see stop on the find-the-news TV tour.

And what they’re proving, over at MSNBC, is that a show of unity among parties with private conflicts isn’t as easy to pull off as it might seem.