Concha on Convention: Networks ready for Cleveland, and more
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As we've seen over the past year, there are no slow news days in the cable news business these days. 

If it isn't politics-based or driven by something Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE said or tweeted, it's breaking news of a terror attack here or abroad. Or it's a mass shooting here at home. Or as we've sadly witnessed in Dallas and Baton Rogue over the past nine days, it's an ambush on police. 


The old, macabre saying in journalism goes that "if it bleeds, it leads." As we've all watched on our screens, there's been plenty of needless blood spilled in the U.S. in 2016. 

And so that is the backdrop this week for the Republican National Convention from a media perspective: If the pattern holds, and a big story breaks outside of the convention hall or Cleveland itself, what's the game plan for the cable news networks? 

Before we get to the answer, know this: The audience numbers for this convention — given all the unpredictable factors a Trump production can provide and the curiosity around it all — will be record-breaking. Forget the fact there are more options for viewers than ever before. Forget the fact it's July, it's hot and the sun doesn't set until nearly 9 p.m. 

Records will be broken over the next week, and it won't even be close. 

The 2012 election saw 30.3 million people tune in across multiple networks to see what Mitt Romney and Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE had to offer. This offering — complete with a speaker list, easily the most eclectic in convention history, that culminates with a Trump acceptance speech on Thursday night — will easily double that number. 

But with that kind of audience comes the very real possibility that a deranged mind or perhaps an organization may attempt to take advantage of the huge platform in an insidious way. So how does a Fox News or CNN or MSNBC plan on handling that kind of scenario? 

"There's not one simple answer, because it all depends on the circumstances," said CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist in an interview with The Hill. "Our CNN primary anchors are in Cleveland. Today we've been covering breaking news using our anchors who've been in Cleveland, but our reporters have been elsewhere. We did it yesterday [Saturday] with Turkey. We did today [Sunday] with Baton Rouge." 

Feist adds that CNN has anchors inside the convention at Quicken Loans Arena and in other parts of Cleveland at other studios, using Wolf Blitzer as an example of an anchor outside the conventional who handled coverage of the Baton Rogue shooting in the afternoon and the president's reaction to it. 

As for Fox's plans, Bret Baier told The Hill in an interview earlier in the month that in these situations, the breaking news itself dictates how the network news division approaches any story unrelated to the convention.

"We have constant communication with Shep's [Shepard Smith] team," said Baier, who will anchor Fox News's GOP convention coverage with Megyn Kelly in Cleveland. "It all depends on the news event and what level of importance we give it. I assume all of our news talent would play in something very big, and hopefully we're not going to have to do that." 

A Fox News spokesperson confirms Smith — who specifically handles breaking news coverage in addition to anchoring the afternoon program "Shepard Smith Reporting" — will also be in Cleveland. 

On the MSNBC front, primary anchors Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow will not be in Cleveland, according to the network. Instead, they will provide coverage from 30 Rockefeller Center in New York. A network spokesperson says MSNBC will be "prepared to cover any breaking news as it develops."

The 2016 Republican National Convention will be like no other. 

But given the instability of the country and the world that we have been seeing on an almost-daily basis, the greatest show on Earth out of Cleveland may end up be pre-empted — and for all the wrong reasons. 

Either way, as expected, all the major cable news networks will be ready for whatever comes their way.

Concha is The Hill's media reporter.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.