A Democratic Multiplatform


The Democratic National Convention could be the most interesting reality show of the year.

Producers of the convention, being held this August in Denver, told reporters in a conference call Thursday that there will be some surprises in store for those used to the same-old, same old.

For one thing, they said they will try to make it interactive and extend beyond the traditional bounds of TV network coverage to give viewers, surfers and accessers of content a greater sense of, and stake in, the proceedings.

It all sounds very "democratic" as well as "Democratic." The producers, with Emmys and even a student Oscar under their belts, indicated the TV networks are also jazzed by the multiplatform possibilities, knowing that is where their future lies as well.

But it is more than the technology that will make this show interesting. For once there appears to be a compelling drama that won’t already have rolled the closing credits before the opening of the convention. The Obama/Clinton fight could be the top bout on any HBO card.

There is even talk of having those vaunted Super Delegates (kind of like the political equivalent of a Jack-in-the Box Super Taco) meet in some neutral city to talk about how they may have to decide the nominee.

If so, every "cough" and "harumph" should be on national TV so that there is no suggestion of the sort of back room sausage-making that everyone suspects is the recipe for political decisions. Someone suggested it would make a great MTV reality show, but I would argue for the kind of coverage that made the Watergate hearings riveting TV.

And speaking of Nixon, we appear to have a younger generation engaged in the political process with a passion perhaps not seen since the Kennedy (John, that is) era. This is the real moment of truth, or at least one of them, and TV should try to keep those viewers turned on to politics, rather than tune into the drop-outs who wreck their homes for the chance at a few bucks.

And look for the blogosphere to go over the Deomcratic convention coverage with the electronic equivalent of a fine-tooth comb (would that be a fine-tooth comb filter?, which I’m told "brings out fine picture detail and provides purer color."

That is because, by the luck of the draw, Fox has been picked to head the pool coverage. That means that Foxwill be providing to CNN and ABC and CBS and NBC the pictures and sounds of the nominating and acceptance speeches, the roll calls and catcalls and whatever else happens in Denver.

Given the Democrats exclusion of Fox from that Nevada debate last year, that choice spells "irony" in flashing neon letters. NBC got the nod for Republican coverage, which leads to images of a peacock atop an elephant, but nothing much in the irony department.