Speed Reads

DNC 2020

Experimental virtual Democratic National Convention kicks off Monday with Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders

The Democratic National Convention begins Monday night, conducted virtually with a mixture of prerecorded speeches, musical acts, and live-edited cut-ins from around the U.S. The convention will be condensed into two hours a night, Monday through Thursday, from 9-11 p.m. EDT; the broadcast networks will cover only the second hour, though the entire presentation will be streamed on most social media services and smart devices, plus broadcast on cable news. "Anything can happen," promised the event's producer, Ricky Kirshner. "It is not scripted, I can tell you that."

Monday night's theme is "We the People." The night's keynote will be delivered by former first lady Michelle Obama, and other featured speakers include Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio). Presumptive nominee Joe Biden will speak from Delaware on Thursday night, and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), will be the featured speaker Wednesday night. The shortened format means shorter speeches and fewer speakers. "This will be certainly different than any other convention," said DNC Chairman Thomas Perez. "You'll see fewer podiums but you'll see more people in living rooms. You'll see them on factory floors and schools and communities."

The convention will be a technically complex affair, with about 400 people working behind the scenes to mix together prerecorded content with live feeds from living rooms, national monuments, and stages, The Washington Post reports. "For a typically antiquated and long-winded event, the remade unconventional convention could set a new standard for national political gatherings, which have evolved since the 1960s from their roots as actual smoke-filled rooms where presidents were picked to suspenseless televised spectacles that even partisans struggled to justify. The new circus could also flop."