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TV's five journalists to watch at the DNC

By Mark Washburn
mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com

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  • National media coverage to lift curtain on Charlotte
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    WATCHING IT: CNN and Fox News Channel broadcast from Charlotte from early morning until after midnight. ABC, CBS and NBC will present hourlong specials in prime time beginning Tuesday. PBS will present gavel-to-gavel coverage in prime time. C-SPAN will carry live coverage all day.



CHARLOTTE, N.C. Thousands of journalists will be covering the DNC in Charlotte. Here are five of the most experienced in covering the national political scene. You’ll be seeing them on TV this week, and here are their thoughts going into the convention.

1. Judy Woodruff

Post: Co-anchoring PBS gavel-to-gavel coverage, “PBS NewsHour.”

Career: Former White House correspondent, NBC; anchor and correspondent for CNN.

Carolinas connection: Her father is from Roanoke Rapids. She attended Meredith College in Raleigh, then Duke University in Durham. “And I married a Demon Deacon.”

Interesting angles: “Looking to the president and the folks surrounding him and how they present the second term as being better and different than the first. They’re going to be called on to answer ‘What are you going to do differently?’ It’s not in their interest to look back, aside from saying we inherited a big mess.”

Do conventions still matter? “They’re not as exciting as they used to be back with the smoke-filled rooms and backroom brokers. Now they’re more about the parties telling us what they believe in. From that point on, they’ve got eight weeks to make their closing arguments.”

2. Jake Tapper

Post: ABC senior White House correspondent.

Career: Lead ABC reporter for the 2008 election; national correspondent for Salon.com.

Carolinas connection: His grandfather was head of the physics department at UNC Chapel Hill and his mother grew up there.

Interesting angles: “Positive vs. negative. In 2008, the Obama campaign cast itself as positive, but ran an extreme number of negative ads. Will the convention be about attacking Romney or running for a second term?”

Do conventions still matter? “I remember well in 2004 covering the convention in Boston when suddenly there was this young state senator out of Illinois giving the keynote speech and getting well received.”

3. John Roberts

Post: Senior national correspondent, Fox News Channel.

Career: Fox’s Atlanta-based correspondent; anchor at CNN; chief White House correspondent CBS News.

Carolinas connection: Daughter attended College of Charleston.

Interesting angles: “If you look at the way the campaigns have gone in the last few weeks, you’ll probably see a lot of red meat thrown out at these conventions. Every four years we say the attacks on opponents will top anything we’ve seen before in terms of negative advertising. But I think this may actually be true 2012.”

Do conventions still matter? “It’s the biggest political event of the summer and kicks off one of the most important election campaigns of this generation. They create an initial buzz.”

4. Norah O’Donnell

Post: Chief White House correspondent for CBS, and soon becomes co-host of “CBS This Morning.”

Career: Reporter for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call; covered Washington for NBC.

Carolinas connection: Only visited on assignment.

Interesting angles: “We’re bombarded by competing realities – Mitt Romney says one thing is true on Medicare and Barack Obama says another thing is true. It’s the job of journalists to sort through the facts and see what’s true.”

Do conventions still matter? “Largely they are about letting the American people get a feel for the candidates. … This is an opportunity for Americans to take a gut check about whether they like Romney or Obama, and whether they believe what’s true in their speeches.”

5. Jim Acosta

Post: National political correspondent, CNN.

Career: CBS correspondent in New York and Atlanta; started at a Washington radio station, then got into television by working at a Knoxville, Tenn., station.

Carolinas connection: He proposed to his wife on a weekend trip to Cashiers.

Interesting angles: “There are a tremendous number of out-of-context attacks during this campaign by both sides ... It’s almost like a notch in the belts of the campaigns to make a ‘pants-on-fire,’ Pinocchio ad. That may be one of the defining issues of this campaign – a lot of the ads are just completely false.”

Do conventions still matter? “These conventions are so scripted, it drains some of the news value out of covering them. But this is an incredibly interesting election because you have a president with a high unemployment rate and a challenger who can’t seem to capitalize on that, at least not yet.”

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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