The Washington Post

John Sununu calls major TV networks ‘hypocritical’ on convention coverage

A leading surrogate for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign called the major television networks “hypocritical” for making millions of dollars from campaign advertisements but reserving only three hours for prime-time broadcasts from the Republican National Convention.

John H. Sununu, a former New Hampshire governor and White House chief of staff, said in an interview Saturday that the three major broadcast networks “have become great takers and not enough givers,” pointing to their decision not to broadcast from Tampa on Monday, the convention’s first day.

ABC, CBS and NBC will each broadcast from the convention for one hour on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, as well as on Thursday night, when Romney will deliver his acceptance speech. The networks will give equal time to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next month.

GOP officials failed to persuade the major broadcast networks to add coverage on Monday night, although C-SPAN and the cable news networks are planning complete live coverage of the entire convention.

“I find it sort of interesting that the principal recipients of all the advertising money that both parties will spend on TV advertising have chosen not to cover the event which is a key part of the campaign,” Sununu said. “But I guess that speaks to what the networks think they are and what they think they’re not. I guess they are absolutely wed to sitcoms and the triviality that they are going to load onto the TV other than the two conventions.”

Asked to explain what he meant by his comment, Sununu, a frequent critic of the media, called the major networks “hypocritical.”

“We’re going to do fine,” he said. “We’ve got the money to put our message out. That’s not an issue. I just find that there are components in society that have opportunities to take and opportunities to give, and right now the networks have become great takers and not enough givers.”

Officials at the three networks either declined to respond or could not be reached immediately for comment. One official noted, however, that three nights of coverage mirrors the networks’ treatment of the political conventions in both 2000 and 2004.

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.


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