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Corporate Press Release Theater: Access Hollywood's Obama Bounce

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There’s been much talk, particularly with Barack Obama’s overseas roadtrip, about whether the media are paying an unfair amount of attention to the Democratic candidate compared with John McCain. (An argument the McCain campaign is aggressively pushing.) It’s a worthwhile question, but it’s also worth noting that there are motivations other than bias involved: namely, money and eyeballs.

Today, Access Hollywood brags that its overall ratings for the week it ran a four-part interview with the Obamas jumped by 25%:

BURBANK, CA-July 22, 2008-NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution’s entertainment newsmagazine “Access Hollywood” and its companion website scored across-the-board ratings gains during the week of the show’s exclusive interview with Senator Obama and his family.

“Access Hollywood” experienced a significant increase in national syndication household, total viewer and demographic ratings during the week of July 7, 2008, according to Nielsen Media Research data. For the week, “Access Hollywood” was up nationally more than 20% in households, total viewers and adults 25-54 from the previous week. The show improved time periods in all of the nation’s top five markets, including a 43% jump on WCAU-TV Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m.

[More blatant boasting redacted.]

*In households, “Access” averaged a 2.0 HH rating, up 25% from the previous week.

*In total viewers, “Access” averaged 2.7 million viewers, up 20% over the previous week.

*In women 25-54, “Access” averaged a 1.3 rating, up 30% from the previous week.

When there’s enough watercooler interest in the wider pop culture, producers, editors and bookers are going to try to get their share of the eyeballs. You don’t put a politician on a nightly showbiz newsmagazine for reasons of selfless political idealism.

Of course, the obvious rejoinder is that the watercooler interest is itself instigated by the liberal media. But ask President Kerry how well that worked for him.