Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

RNC welcome party lacks big names in national media

Former American Idol contestant Shannon Magrane of Tampa performs Open Arms, a 1982 hit by Journey, at the Republican National Convention’s official welcome party Sunday at Tropicana Field.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Former American Idol contestant Shannon Magrane of Tampa performs Open Arms, a 1982 hit by Journey, at the Republican National Convention’s official welcome party Sunday at Tropicana Field.

ST. PETERSBURG — Critics concerned about big-name reporters such as ABC's Diane Sawyer or NBC's Brian Williams having drinks and munching food with GOP delegates at a reception funded by the people they are supposed to be covering needn't have worried.

As it turns out, few big names in national media seemed to turn out for the Republican National Convention's opening night party Sunday at Tropicana Field, despite its billing as the first time that media and delegates would mingle at a combined celebration, paid for by the convention host committee. (Rain and storm warnings may have kept some people away.)

One of the exceptions was Jesse Watters, a producer for Fox News Channel star Bill O'Reilly, who was treated like a celebrity by delegates who crowded about, taking pictures and complimenting him on his work.

Watters specializes in field interviews for O'Reilly's conservative-friendly show, taking to the red carpet at the Oscars to grill stars such as George Clooney on their political views or lampoon Independence Day beachgoers who didn't know U.S. history.

"There's no stupid people here, so what are you gonna do?" shouted one admirer. "You're taller in real life," enthused another delegate, holding up a smartphone for a picture.

"I'm just here to do a sights and sounds package," said a tight-lipped Watters, who declined to speak further with the Tampa Bay Times, though he assured fans that O'Reilly would be coming to the RNC on Wednesday and Thursday.

Former American Idol contestant Shannon Magrane drew similar attention from local TV stations scrambling to find notable people to interview.

The reporters were hampered by rules from the host committee barring cameras from the floor of Tropicana Field, forcing them to set up in the stands. There, they made do with interviews with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Magrane, a Tampa native who reached 11th place in this year's American Idol competition.

"I can't vote, and I'm still learning about how all this works in my government class," said the singer, who made headlines on Idol as the 6-foot tall, 16-year-old daughter of former Major League Baseball pitcher and current MLB Network broadcaster Joe Magrane. "It's a moment in history that the RNC is here, and I'm just glad to be a part of it."

The ranks of media seemed to be filled mostly by local figures, including Dave McKay and Veronica Young from WQYK-FM (99.5), Mark Wilson from WTVT-Ch. 13 and Linda Hurtado from WFTS-Ch. 28; all conducting interviews for their respective programs.

The lack of big names left Miami radio host Edward Woodson disappointed. He was part of a media contingent only credentialed to cover the event from Tropicana Field's centerfield restaurant, watching the party from picture windows looking onto the field.

"It's horrible, because we didn't get access to anything," complained Woodson, who hosts a weekly show for WZAB-AM in Miami. "This isn't how we do things in Miami."

Eric Deggans can be reached at (727) 893-8521 or edeggans@tampabay.com.

RNC welcome party lacks big names in national media 08/26/12 [Last modified: Sunday, August 26, 2012 10:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs

    Bucs

    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  2. Who is that 'Blacks for Trump' guy standing behind the president at his Phoenix rally

    National

    At a number of political rallies over the last two years, a character calling himself "Michael the Black Man" has appeared in the crowd directly behind Donald Trump, impossible to miss and possibly planted.

    Michael the Black Man, variously known as Michael Symonette, Maurice Woodside and Mikael Israel, holds up a sign as President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center during a rally on Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona.  [Ralph Freso | Getty Images]
  3. Off-duty Manatee County deputy saves couple from burning car

    Public Safety

    MANATEE COUNTY — Neil and Claudia Cook are lucky to be alive after an off-duty deputy spotted them trapped in their smoking car and rescued them just before it became engulfed in flames on …

    Neil and Claudia Cook were trapped in their smoking car on Sunday when an off-duty deputy kicked out the window, rescuing them just before the car became engulfed in flames. [Courtesy of Manatee County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Hillary Clinton said her 'skin crawled' when Donald Trump stood behind her on debate stage

    National

    In her most detailed public comments about what happened during the second presidential debate, Hillary Clinton said her "skin crawled" as Donald Trump loomed behind her on the stage in St. Louis last October.

    Hillary Clinton speaks as Donald Trump listens during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 9, 2016. In her upcoming book, Clinton says "It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled." [Pool photo by Rick T. Wilking via AP]
  5. After 17 years, Pasco-Hernando State College attorney steps away

    College

    The longtime attorney for Pasco-Hernando State College has resigned for what he says are "purely personal reasons."

    Steve Schroeder, the general council for Pasco-Hernando State College, resigned last week. His last day will be Sept. 8.