When it came to the television coverage of the Republican National Convention, did Tampa get the bang for its buck?
Well, depends on what you mean by bang.
This wasn't like hosting an Olympics or even a Super Bowl. In those cases, the host cities are on display. We see their history, their tradition, their sights, their sounds, their essence.
But when it comes to political conventions, all the cities run together. They all look the same. To the average viewer watching at home, especially those not associated with this area, Tampa might as well have been Charlotte, N.C., or Atlanta or Memphis or St. Louis.
Was the city mentioned? Yes, constantly. There was no mistaking where the RNC was held.
Everyone from Wolf Blitzer to Bill O'Reilly to Sean Hannity to Brian Williams to Diane Sawyer to Matt Lauer said the word "Tampa'' over and over and over again. So did CNN's Anderson Cooper, who arrived in town finally on Thursday after spending the previous three days hunkered down in New Orleans for Hurricane Isaac.
Did we see camera shots of Tampa? Well, sort of. CNN and ABC, in particular, showed sweeping aerial shots of downtown. (Thanks, by the way, to both for not showing those ugly concrete barriers that snarled up downtown.) But most pictures were of the Tampa Bay Times Forum — a few outside, almost all of them inside.
Viewers never learned about our traditions and culture — from Cuban sandwiches to cigars to our beaches.
We even got shortchanged by Jon Stewart. I was so looking forward to seeing Tampa skewered by the brilliant Daily Show host and all we got were the same old cliches about humidity, strippers and roaches. Really, Jon? How long did it take to write that bit — five minutes? Ten?
Come on, man, this is Tampa. This is Florida. We have like a billion things to lampoon. You're one of the best satirists of our time. And all you got is weather and stripper jokes? You and your staff are so much better than to go with the very first joke that popped into your head. What a ripoff.
So, today, we take down those concrete barriers, the Tampa Bay Times Forum goes back to being a hockey arena and our lives return to normal. Next week, we'll sit back and watch the Democratic National Convention from Charlotte, N.C.
Or is it Atlanta? Or St. Louis?
Heck, it all looks the same on TV.