Conventions often leave analysts star-struck
FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2012 file photo, former President Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Clinton's convention speech nominating President Barack Obama for a second term left Piers Morgan of CNN star-struck: "Already the best speech of either convention," the prime-time talk show host tweeted. "An oratorical genius right up there with Churchill, Kennedy, MLK and Mandela." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — A trend toward gushing about rather than analyzing political speeches was apparent during television coverage of the conventions even before CNN's Piers Morgan compared Bill Clinton to Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr.
Perhaps fueled by a pressure to stand out and a more partisan media, analysts frequently seemed star-struck by speakers and slipped into blurb-happy evaluations of the news in front of them.
Morgan took to Twitter before former President Clinton's speech nominating President Barack Obama for a second term was even halfway through.
"Already the best speech of either convention," the prime-time talk show host tweeted. "An oratorical genius right up there with Churchill, Kennedy, MLK and Mandela."
He was hardly alone. "I'm giddy," MSNBC's Ed Schultz declared after Clinton's speech. The former president "never ceases to amaze," said CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Just an amazing speech," said CBS' Bob Schieffer. He was "filled with vitality," ABC's Diane Sawyer said. "An amazing performance," evaluated MSNBC's Steve Schmidt. It's probably the moment that re-elected Obama, raved CNN's Alex Castellanos.
And the latter two are moonlighting Republican operatives.
Clinton got the superlatives flowing faster than anyone, but first lady Michelle Obama and potential first lady Ann Romney also had their share of bubbly evaluations.
Michelle Obama's speech was "probably a grand slam," Blitzer said. Schultz dubbed her a star. Fox News Channel's Steve Doocy called Romney's address "absolutely electrifying." MSNBC's Chris Matthews raved about San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro making one of the best speeches he'd ever heard.
By the morning after Michelle Obama's speech, CNN was asking its audience to answer an instant poll question: "Should Michelle Obama run for office?"
There were attention-getting pans, too. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's address to Republicans was nicknamed a "me-note" instead of a keynote address. Fox's Charles Krauthammer said Clinton's speech was a "giant swing and a miss" and Barack Obama's acceptance speech "one of the emptiest speeches I have ever heard on a national stage."
"What you're seeing is a much greater emphasis on what the political pros call optics," said Bill Wheatley, a former top executive at NBC News who now teaches at Columbia University. "There's an increasing amount of theater criticism, if you will. There's often more being said about how things look compared to how things are."