CNN dives deep into convention coverage

Cabler plans daylong reporting centered around CNN Grill

The broadcast networks’ coverage of political conventions are but a whisper of the gavel-to-gavel days of election years past, but CNN will be devoting sunup to sundown attention to the gatherings.

While Fox News and MSNBC are expected to announce their full plans soon, CNN is planting its flag early with an immersive focus. The cabler’s Washington bureau chief and senior VP Sam Feist noted that the network is “the only cable news channel that has not picked sides in this election.”

Much of CNN’s coverage will center around the CNN Grill, a restaurant and gathering spot set up at the Republican National Convention, running from Aug. 27 to 31 in Tampa, and the Democratic National Convention, running Sept. 4-6 in Charlotte. A studio is being integrated into the grill facilities, with “Early Start” achor John Berman anchoring from there starting at 5 a.m. “Starting Point With Soledad O’Brien” and a midnight edition of “Piers Morgan Tonight” will also be based from the grill.

Wolf Blitzer will anchor “The Situation Room” from the convention floors, and anchor evening coverage along with Anderson Cooper, Erin Burnett and Candy Crowley, with John King at the onscreen “magic wall.” Gloria Borger and David Gergen will provide analysis.

CNN’s coverage in Tampa starts Aug. 26, with “State of the Union With Candy Crowley” and “Reliable Sources” hosted by Howard Kurtz. Those shows also will be in Charlotte on Sept. 2.

CNN is also doing a preview special for each convention: “America’s Choice 2012: Countdown to the Republican National Convention” airs Aug. 26, and “America’s Choice 2012: Countdown to the Democratic National Convention” airs Sept. 3.