FishbowlDC Q&A With Fusion’s Alicia Menendez

She talks the RNC and Fusion's approach to coverage.

It would be easy to get pulled in by the immensity of the show that is the Republican National Convention. Fusion has, after all, titled its coverage of the convention The Trump Show. Their crew shares the Quicken Loans Arena space with thousands of delegates and about 15,000 credentialed journalists. They have spent days inside the Q, as it’s called, witnessing spectacle after unique spectacle. How easy it would be to convince yourself, and in turn your audience, that this convention is The Most Important Thing To Happen in the World Ever?

Fusion host Alicia Menendez, who is anchoring coverage of the RNC along with Jorge Ramos, is not having it. She’s maintaining her perspective, for her own and her audience’s sake, reminding them throughout that “these conventions are highly produced sales pitches, and continually com[ing] back to that in addition to exploring the issues.”

The issues being explored may look a little different from the concerns of other networks. Fusion’s audience isn’t just the generically understood millennial generation, but millennials in all their racial, ethnic and gender diversity, which is why what is not being discussed by the political establishment is often as important as what is. With Fusion itself, in the words of CEO Isaac Lee, a “majority-minority company,” that understanding is in part experientially derived.

“As someone who processes news and information through a generational lens,” Menendez tells FishbowlDC about Tuesday night’s coverage, the ostensible focus of which was the economy, “I thought it was really interesting that they didn’t have a single speaker that I felt was geared towards a millennial economic message, meaning that nobody talked about college affordability, no one talked about student debt and how those issues tie to other economic issues for millennials like employment, underemployment, home ownership.”

Menendez talked with FishbowlDC about her thoughts on the convention and Fusion’s approach to covering the convention, as well as the election itself.

FishbowlDC: What are your impressions of the RNC so far?

Alicia Menendez: I think as media covering it we expected the big story to really be outside the convention hall and so far its been relatively quiet, relatively peaceful. I still think there’s a lot of time between now and the end for things to heat up.

When you’re inside the convention hall itself, even during primetime, it is lower energy than what I’d expect, so that right now is what I’m walking away with. A lot of calls for unity and for enthusiasm, and I’m not sure whether or not they were actually able to stir that.

It’s a party struggling for unity, and I think that even with the party in search of unity, the lack of cohesion is contributing to the lack of energy and enthusiasm in the room.

FBDC: What has your coverage focus been?

Menendez: I think we wanted to be really honest about the fact that while these conventions are important, and there are critical issues being discussed, like safety, security and the economy, these are fundamentally shows. Both the RNC and the DNC are designed to sell voters on their respective parties’ candidates.

FBDC: So much of the coverage of this election in general has been portrayed in this entertainment perspective, as if that’s a positive thing.

Menendez: A lot of the production value is in line with Donald Trump’s style–that grand entrance that he had on Monday night when Melania [Trump] spoke, a lot of the videos that have been produced and interspersed, and I think part of the reason that people are focusing on that is because it really does reflect the candidate that the party is selling.