Bang for the Buck?

This will require closer attention and much deeper analysis, but in general, it’s been pretty despicable to watch the networks not air some pretty hefty speeches in favor of endless commentary.

This afternoon, MSNBC interviewed Tammy Duckworth, a veteran of the war and veterans affairs director in Illinois, about her speech tonight. And, then tonight, they failed to broadcast her time at the podium. CNN and Fox News also didn’t show it; it could be seen on C-SPAN and PBS.

Duckworth’s job at the convention was to talk about Obama’s plans for providing services to Iraq vets and how he would serve as commander in chief. These are good questions, and Duckworth is qualified to raise them as an Illinois National Guard major. And the McCain campaign has repeatedly tried to cast doubt on Obama’s readiness to lead the troops, so why not let someone in an (albeit partisan) position to offer some insight and show her speech?

Perhaps, if you’ve hired the Best Team in Politics, or staked out your spot as the Place for Politics, or whatever, maybe you feel compelled to squeeze every last penny out of your anchors, analysts, and commentators. But broadcasting the speeches is free, and important.

Update: This photograph of Duckworth’s prosthetic legs as she stood at the podium addressing the DNC is a taste of the powerful images that the networks didn’t show their viewers tonight.

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.