The first night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Monday was a great night for Michelle Obama and Cory Booker, who delivered two of the better speeches in American political history. It was a mixed night for Bernie Sanders’ movement: Yes, their man delivered a long, well-received address, but he also did it in the service of unambiguously endorsing Hillary Clinton.
You know who had a bad night in Philly, besides Debbie Wasserman-Schultz? Reporters.
“Worst. Convention. Ever.”
According to a Politico article Tuesday morning by Hadas Gold, the assembled media in town for the Democratic convention has been full of complaints about the “logistics” of the DNC so far. Some of it is the weather, with sweltering temperatures remaining in the 90s much of the day. Others have complained about the arena being located too far away from their hotels, too-long waits for traffic, and (worst of all) the Uber drop-off point being located at too long a walk away from the convention hall itself.
Dan McQuade of Philadelphia Magazine collected some tweets from complaining media members, including too much traffic heading out of the arena. He quotes the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank as calling this the “Worst. Convention. Ever.,” and Matt Bai of Yahoo opining that “Columbus would have aced it.”
Leave aside that the Philadelphia organizers had no way of knowing, two years in advance, about the weather, or that anyone who's ever been to a sporting event in Philly should know that driving there when there's a convenient train nearby is never a good decision.
My reaction to this is to tell these people to check themselves and stop complaining. Covering the Democratic convention, with credentials for the floor especially, is a plum assignment that a lot of journalists would kill for. It’s the chance to have a front-row seat for history, with much news likely to be made. On top of that, reporters covering the convention get to spend a week in a desirable city, going to lots of parties and likely an expensive restaurant or two, with every last penny of their expenses covered by their employers.
On top of that, the logistical difficulties of media members at a political convention is one of those stories that no one cares about, besides the media themselves. In a political year in which much more attention than usual has been paid to the struggles of the poor, victims of violence and other marginalized people, complaints of inconvenience faced by reporters are especially laughable.
It’s nothing new
This is something of a familiar narrative. A version of this story has been written by reporters covering every Super Bowl that I can remember, as well as other big events that attract lots of media -- the Olympics, the Oscars, South by Southwest, the International Consumer Electronics Show, film festivals, etc. Reporters covering an event that a whole lot of people would kill to attend see it fit to let their audience know about the horrible inconvenience of their hotel and travel itinerary -- when just about everybody reading would gladly switch places with them if given the chance.