President Obama will be on five-count-them-five political talk shows Sunday, on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Univision. I picture him hurriedly fishing one interview, running off, being handed a cup of Gatorade and dumping it over his head, dashing into the next studio…
Then on Monday he’ll be appearing on Late Show with David Letterman, where he will be fitted with an electronic device that will shock him should he begin to utter the words “special” or “Olympics.”
Is this a good idea? Should he just but a 24-hour webcam in the White House and be done with it?
I kid, but I am on record as saying that those who knock the President for “overexposure” miss an important fact about the media today. Overexposure is the point. The audience is fragmented. The way to get through is to reach this audience here and that one there, and that one there.
Appearing on five Sunday shows, on the other hand, seems like a different strategy. Sure, they’re separate shows, but they have similar kinds of audiences. (Excepting, say, a language difference for Univision.) It’s not like doing 60 Minutes and then an entertainment show. It begins to take on the appearance of media-messaging as hot-dog-eating contest, as if Obama is setting a record to prove that he can.
One potential benefit, though, of the roadblock is that if Obama is on the Sunday shows, it means that no one else is in those time slots: in other words, he can more easily control the message that weekend. (Unless he gets overcomfortable and gaffes.) I’ll leave it to wiser political minds, however, to answer why he wants to dominate this particular weekend.
You may have noticed, by the way, the one notable omission from his schedule: Fox News. I think this is a mistake. The perception may be that Fox is a nest of Obama-haters whose audience is monolithically opposed to him, but I think he would only benefit from being perceived to have the stones to do Fox and do it regularly. His campaign interview with Bill O’Reilly was tough—and it was the best interview he gave in the whole campaign cycle.
As I said then, “The fact remains that — according to Pew Research — over half of Fox News’ audience members are Democrats or Independents. Their votes are legitimate, whether Fox News is or not. And to continue to freeze out Fox would go against one of Obama’s most consistent messages: that people are sick of red-vs.-blue America divisions and that we should be able to talk with people who disagree with us.” I’m sticking by that.
And as for why he’s doing Letterman? Well, he already did Leno this year. And apparently the universe just hates Conan O’Brien right now.