Media coverage highlights of GOP’s first night


A look at the 2016 Republican National Convention through a media lens:

The good vibes from Melania Trump’s speech to the GOP delegates lasted about as long as it took to clear the room.

Generally well received by pundits in the immediate aftermath, stories quickly spread about similar passages in the prospective first lady’s address to one given by Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic convention.

CBS’ Charlie Rose said Monday night that Melania Trump “proved to skeptics she could be an asset in this campaign.” But by Tuesday morning, Rose talked about the controversy at the top of “CBS This Morning.” All of the network morning shows did, in some cases airing back-to-back clips of the passages for viewers to compare.

Monday night, ABC’s David Muir said Melania Trump accomplished what she had set out to do. By Tuesday’s “Good Morning America,” ABC’s Matthew Dowd said, “It’s going to look like the convention is already being mismanaged.”

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was speaking to the convention when broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC began their one hour of coverage, and they treated his appearance almost as an inconvenience. The networks’ own people needed their own airtime and there were other things to talk about: NBC showed tape of Matt Lauer boarding Trump’s plane to interview Donald and Melania Trump. With much more time available, the cable networks and PBS thoroughly covered Giuliani’s ringing attack on President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

REGRETS: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes took to Twitter to second-guess himself for not being more forceful questioning Iowa Rep. Steve King’s comment, in a panel discussion, questioning whether any other “sub-group” contributed more to civilization than whites. Hayes said he found the notion of debating who contributed more to civilization odious, “but I hear people who think I made the wrong call in the moment. Maybe I did.”

CHYRON TIME: Whoever wrote the chyrons — those printed words that run on the bottom of the screen — at CNN had fun when reality star Antonio Sabato Jr. spoke. The printed messages informed viewers that Sabato had a reality show “in which women competed to be his girlfriend.” Another mentioned that Sabato’s Calvin Klein billboard hung across from the Trump Tower in the 1990s. “Soap star: I’m concerned about our country’s future,” read another.

PUSH BACK: Patricia Smith, whose son died in the Benghazi, Libya, attack, said she blamed Clinton, the former secretary of state, for his death and ended an emotional speech by suggesting Clinton should be in jail. Afterward, CNN and MSNBC pushed back. CNN’s Jake Tapper quoted Clinton when she had earlier contested some of Smith’s assertions. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said that “It’s wrong to have somebody get up there and tell a lie about Hillary Clinton.”

FLOOR FIGHT: The fight by anti-Trump delegates to force a prolonged debate over convention rules was a throwback to a time when the midsummer party meetings were television shows with unpredictability, genuine conflict and old-fashioned displays of political muscle.

On Fox News, the commotion interrupted a discussion between anchor Stuart Varney and media watchdog Brent Bozell, who agreed the media would portray the convention as a series of confrontations that would reflect ill on Trump. Varney probably didn’t expect trouble to erupt so soon on his own network.

Alerted something was up on the convention floor, Varney threw to reporter James Rosen. “Stuart, it’s remarkable,” Rosen said. “It’s the type of scene you just don’t see in modern political conventions. … Right now, the floor of the Republican National Convention is in a state approaching bedlam.” Fox analyst Julie Roginsky said that after years of watching stage-managed conventions, it seemed surreal.

Varney found a bright side. “It’s given a life that we have not seen at a convention in many, many years,” he said. “It’s also entertaining. People will watch this.”

MSNBC interviewed a delegate who complained of being intimidated by “brown shirts.” CNN’s Dana Bash offered swift, solid reporting on how the Trump forces quelled the uprising with a show of force. “It has actually almost been physical arm-twisting,” she said.

The best thing for the Trump campaign was that this happened in the afternoon — away from the eyes of prime-time viewers. The event seemed distant when discussed later at night.

QUOTE: “Would Joanie still love Chachi after tonight?” —CNN’s Bash, interviewing actor Scott Baio after his convention speech.

WEEKEND UPDATE: One of many signs that the conventions are as important to late-night comics as political reporters this year came with NBC’s announcement Monday that “Weekend Update” anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che of “Saturday Night Live” are interrupting their summer vacations. They’ll host special convention editions of “Weekend Update” on MSNBC on Wednesday this week and next, and will be special correspondents for the “Today” show.