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Networks are nervous about two hours of Donald Trump at the RNC being a ratings killer for them

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Donald Trump at CPAC and Joe Biden in Iowa (Gage Skidmore/Flickr and Michael F. Hiatt/Shutterstock)

The Democratic Convention is underway with an all-inclusive rainbow of elected leaders, community members, and everyday citizens speaking out about their hope for a better world.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party has announced that their convention, which will feature Donald Trump every night, will also have such guests as the St. Louis couple that incorrectly handled their guns while waving and threatening protesters walking by their St. Louis mansion. The RNC also announced that they’ll also welcome “smirking MAGA kid” photographed standing inches from the face of a Native American protester in a drum circle. The invitations resulted in a flood of claims of other guests that were a joke. Everyone from Stanford rapist Brock Turner to Jeffrey Epstein’s ghost, Hitler’s dog walker and singers of the KKK Khoir.

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While jokes spread throughout Twitter, The Daily Beast reported that television networks are nervous about the RNC event. They’ve already cut down what they show because the viewership numbers aren’t enough for them to make any money.

“But this year, another explanation was offered for keeping the broadcasts short: Uncertainty over what airing President Donald Trump’s coronation event might look and sound like,” said the Beast sources.

When Democratic officials met with broadcast networks about the plan for coverage, they explained they couldn’t do two hours each night because it would mean they’d have to also give Trump two hours of coverage. Trump brings with him “wild unpredictability,” said the report.

“We don’t know what that content is going to be,” said one source.

Months ago, Democrats announced that they wouldn’t be doing a convention in person and began work on a massive presentation with experts who could create the perfect video packages for the event.

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Trump, by contrast, didn’t decide until the last minute that after moving the convention to Florida, even it was too dangerous and delegates weren’t willing to risk their lives.

“The result was that the Democrats provided the networks with a detailed schedule of speakers and videos while the Republicans’ convention schedule is still a moving target,” said the Beast. Privately, they explained they’re still in the dark about the basic details and it’s less than a week before the RNC begins.

“In the end, the networks have decided to broadcast the conventions from 10 p.m. through 11 p.m. each night (though, often, the events run longer), while cable-news nets have generally said they plan to cover the festivities from 9 p.m. onward,” said the Beast. “CNN and NBC’s sister cable network, MSNBC, are airing all two hours of the nightly convention, punctuated by on-air commentary, while CBS and ABC are providing full coverage on their digital online outlets, ABC News Live and CBSN; Fox News, meanwhile, did not cover the first hour of the Democrats’ opening convention night. ”

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Then there’s the matter of broadcasting anything Trump-related can put networks in a difficult position.

“The president has complicated editorial decisions for TV executives in part because of his penchant for peddling lies, misinformation, and conspiracy theories,” said the report. “Networks have come under intense scrutiny from media critics and Democrats for giving Trump unfiltered air time to spread propaganda and/or failing to fact-check some of his more dangerous claims in real-time.”

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That’s a particular concern during the coronavirus pandemic, and after the president suggested injecting disinfectant and people putting UV lights in their body. What followed was an uptick in poisonings from people drinking bleach.

Veteran newsman Dan Rather told the Beast that while the Democrats have crafted a well-produced show, Trump’s reality-TV background might make his night more sensationalized or even surreal. Even if Donald Trump’s show is a trainwreck, it will garner significant ratings simply from a country rubber-necking their way through the GOP’s event.

“I think it’s one of the things that Trump and the Republicans are banking on,” he said. “It will be unpredictable, will have surprises, and they’ll be hoping that people will tune in just to see what’s going to happen.”

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Read the full report from The Daily Beast.


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