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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.

Get the latest with Axios' DNC dashboard.

Go deeper

Aug 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

2020 elections: TV ratings were down for both the RNC and DNC

Data: Nielsen; Note: Night one of the 2008 and 2012 conventions were pushed due to hurricanes; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Increasing partisanship, competing streaming options and the mostly virtual nature of this year's programming may help explain why TV ratings for both conventions were way down compared with 2016.

Why it matters: Ratings are not a proxy for popularity or voter enthusiasm, but they do provide a loose sense of which party and figures are capturing the attention of the country.

Updated 14 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 17 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.