Aug 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Virtual conventions make TV debut

Screenshot of Michelle Obama speaking at the DNC convention
Photo by DNCC via Getty Images. Photo: Handout/DNCC via Getty Images

Last night's historic debut of the virtual Democratic National Convention gave Americans a taste of what politics looks like without the big crowds.

Why it matters: Without the glamour of a convention stage, many of the speeches felt flat. The major exception was Michelle Obama's speech, which stood out as the most compelling fifteen minutes of the night by far.

How it looked: The virtual event featured far more voices and faces of everyday Americans, but the videos made for less compelling TV.

  • The mostly-taped event left little little room for funny gaffes or inter-personal moments, like handshakes and hugs, although several tech issues during live shots provided some of that touch.

Who aired it: MSNBC and CNN carried the full convention from roughly 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fox News ran Sean Hannity's show from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m and then took the convention live in the 10 p.m. hour. Hannity played parts of speeches and commented on them with panelists on his show.

Our thought bubble: It was clear that some of the virtual cuts were built for social moments, but few really went viral. The biggest social media moment was probably Michelle Obama's speech.

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