The reason Religion News Service covered the Democrats this week and not the GOP last week

Sorry, conspiracy theorists (including myself).

There's a logical reason why Religion News Service provided extensive coverage of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week after skipping Donald Trump and the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week. And no, it has nothing to do with bias. I'll explain in a moment.

First, a little background: RNS national correspondent David Gibson has been all over various religion angles in the City of Brotherly Love, from asking "Can Hillary Clinton finally close the 'God gap?'" to exploring "Who boos an opening prayer? The Berniacs of 2016, that’s who." 

Other topics have included "The divided soul of the Democratic Party" and "Can Clinton-Kaine bring Democratic voters back to the Democrats?"

But here's a question posed by a reader: Where was the RNS last week when Donald Trump and the Republicans were holding their convention?

My first thought: Did nobody on the RNS staff want to go to Cleveland? I hear it's nice this time of year.

Seriously, it's a legitimate question to ask: How can a news service that claims to be impartial cover one national political convention and not the other?

"Well, you know, religion and GOP politics just don't mix," quipped Terry Mattingly, GetReligion's editor.

But RNS editor in chief Jerome Socolovsky, who joined RNS less than a year and has been open to addressing questions of RNS' perceived liberal leanings, said there's a simple reason why the wire service didn't cover the GOP convention.

"The reason we did not have someone at the GOP convention is that we weren't able to get accreditation," Socolovsky told me in an email.

"Wow!" I responded. "Did you offend Trump?"

Actually, media credentialing for the Republican convention was not controlled by Trump, whom the New York Times notes "has antagonized the news media and restricted access throughout his campaign." For the convention, that job was left to the Congressional Press Galleries. 

Why wouldn't the Congressional Press Galleries credential a national wire service such as RNS? That's a great question. Socolovsky did not provide any more details in his immediate response to me. If he offers any more insight, I will pass it along.

In other political coverage of the past week, RNS has provided down-the-middle balance.

That includes looking at both parties' platforms:

And providing "five faith facts" on both vice presidential nominees:

Kudos to RNS' attempts to provide fair coverage of religion news on both sides of the political aisle.

It's too bad that, apparently, the GOP credentialing process deprived RNS readers of coverage from that convention.

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