Media Circus Descends on Denver

From major media stars to political bloggers to hordes of producers, reporters and technicians, what's happening in Denver might as well be called a media convention, not a political convention.

The Democratic Party credentialed 15,000 members of the media from around the world to cover an event that will be broadcast live.

But they come not because there is necessarily any unexpected news that's likely to unfold here, but because it's a quadrennial television spectacle made irresistible to journalists this year by the twin narratives of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., becoming the nation's first black presidential candidate, and a party divided by supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., disgruntled after a bruising primary battle.

"I think we're looking to see how the Democrats behave," PBS moderator and managing editor Gwen Ifill told ABC News. "They're coming into this all of them on the same page but with varying levels of enthusiasm."

Reporters and political pundits are preparing to parse every syllable of Clinton's primetime speech Tuesday night and former President Bill Clinton's non-primetime speech Wednesday.

"We're all waiting to see what they have to say and how they say it," said Los Angeles Times political writer Mark Barabak.

With the Democratic and Republican parties scheduling back-to-back conventions and the candidates waiting until just days before their conventions to announce their VP picks, many journalists say they're racing to keep up.

"This thing feels like it's gone off like a rocket," said ABC News correspondent John Berman, who has been in Denver since Wednesday filing stories. "It was the VP pick, then the Democratic conventions, then McCain's VP pick, then the Republican convention, right into the debates and boom, it's Nov. 2."

New York Times and CNBC correspondent John Harwood said convention coverage plans are getting made on the fly.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Harwood, who changed his travel plans to fly back to Washington on a red eye at 5 a.m. Friday to be in place for Sen. John McCain's expected vice presidential announcement. He's then getting right back on a plane Sunday to fly to Minneapolis-St. Paul for next week's Republican convention.

While the party's national conventions have become tightly scripted, highly choreographed television extravaganzas, reporters have not been able to uncover whether ailing liberal lion Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., is planning on making a surprise appearance at the convention Monday night.

Media and Political Elite Converge

Downtown Denver has become a candyland for political junkies with television news personalities and national politicians schmoozing on the street.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews bumped into veep shortlister Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel near the Colorado Convention Center.

"This convention's always more fun that the GOP's," Matthews said. "Democrats just have more fun."

But some journalists say the two-hour Mountain Time difference will have them rising early and skipping out on the plethora of convention parties around Denver.

Harwood says he's going to try to make it to one of the hottest tickets in town -- Thursday night's Vanity Fair/Google party.

ABC News' senior political reporter Rick Klein said he'll rise two hours earlier than his usual 4 a.m. wake-up call to get ABC's "The Note" published on Mountain Time.

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