Campus & Community

Cable industry leaders meet political gurus, discuss presidential election

As the host of C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Steve Scully has 
unique insight into presidential politics. He shared his thoughts with about 20 cable industry leaders at the Cable Center May 8.

Scully, along with Pace University political science Professor Chris Malone, fielded
questions about the media and the
Democratic National Convention, which will be held in Denver in August.

“The reason Howard Dean selected this city is because the party’s message is change,” said Scully, C-SPAN senior political editor and executive producer. He said the fact that Denver hasn’t hosted a convention since 1908 sends a message that “it’s a new page for the Democratic party.”

While Scully thinks the Democratic nominee will likely be decided in a couple of weeks, he would welcome a brokered convention.

“It would be great for politics, [a] great teaching tool for students and great for C-SPAN!”

Malone’s political science class at Pace University in New York takes part in Scully’s C-SPAN class. He said he thinks there is a general political illiteracy in America, but the class helps make students politically literate.

“If people don’t understand it they don’t participate,” Malone said. “There is a direct correlation between knowledge and interest — and the more knowledge people have the more interested they are.”

Malone said the American public was much more knowledgeable about politics before television, when they’d listen to one hour or longer campaign speeches. Today, attention spans are narrowed and the candidates have to shorten their messages for TV.

“The debate structure is so constricted,” Malone said. “The candidates better say something memorable and better give a sound bite.”

Scully said his program gives candidates a chance to share their views in a more in-depth format, but often campaigns choose a shorter format in favor of high viewership.

No matter how the media covers the campaign, Scully and Malone said this will be an interesting election.

“This is going to be a much closer race in the general election than people think,” Scully said. “McCain was the weakest Republican in the primaries but is the strongest in the general election.”

Scully also pointed out that if Sen. Barack Obama wins, the race will be between the oldest and youngest nominees in history.

“The race will be fascinating all the way through November,” he said.

While this talk was specifically for cable industry leaders, the Cable Center regularly hosts a class that integrates students from DU, Pace University and George Mason through teleconference. Scully hosts the class live from his C-SPAN studio in Washington, D.C. The distance learning class began in 2002.

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