Fox News and CNN are two of the largest news networks in the country. They are commonly viewed as being opposite sides of the same coin—both mega networks dedicated solely to the presentation of news 24/7, yet on opposite sides of the political spectrum (Fox on the right and CNN on the left).
Yet the rivals seem to have something in common: neither will be allowed to cover the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention.
This past Tuesday, the Washington Examiner obtained an email from the SC Democratic Party to several media outlets, which stated that only one network had rights to cover the event: MSNBC.
“IMPORTANT: MSNBC has exclusive rights to broadcast the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Convention. Any footage of the convention taken by other outlets may not be aired live, and is EMBARGOED FOR THREE HOURS after the close of the convention. This embargo includes any live-streaming from social media platforms,” the party’s press office informed the media.
The email continued: “After each candidate speaks, they will be interviewed by MSNBC on their stage in the rear of the hall. After this, the candidate may choose to go to the designated press avail area. There will be no scrums in the Convention Hall, or outside of the area designated by SCDP staff inside the Convention Center. Footage taken outside the convention hall is not under embargo. Members of the press are free to speak to convention attendees throughout the convention hall, so long as they are not disrupting normal business or interfering with the counting of delegate votes. Please do not enter the delegate seating area near the front of the conventional hall.”
Networks barred from the event included not only Fox and CNN, but also C-SPAN, a cable network known for its political coverage since the late 1970s.
In contrast to debates between political candidates, which are usually network sponsored, conventions are considered free game for press coverage from any network, making South Carolina’s convention the first to host exclusively one network.
The media, needless to say, are not amused.
C-SPAN political director Steve Scully said, “Never has what is an open event given exclusive rights to a single network.”
By relegating other networks to later coverage, the party ultimately ends up shooting itself in the foot, according to Scully. “Maybe they think that they are going to get better coverage. But they are losing out on Fox, C-SPAN and CNN who all intended to carry parts of the speeches live. Live is a key factor. We could put it on Sunday, but by that point, who cares?”
Scully also noted that unlike CNN, Fox, and C-SPAN, MSNBC would be more likely to break away from the convention for a breaking news story, meaning parts of the event may not be properly broadcasted.
Furthermore, by barring every other network from the event, the South Carolina Democratic Party risks damaging their respective relationships with them.
Scully certainly made it clear he had no time for the party: “We will not be coving, absolutely not, and I also told them in no uncertain terms you better think long and hard before you reach out to us to cover something else. We’ll deal with 49 other state Democratic Parties.”