Feature

Obama’s Sunday talk show blitz

Was the president's five-network, five-interview Sunday a triumph of messaging or media overkill?

President Obama didn’t generate a “single blockbuster story” in his “unprecedented” Sunday morning TV blitz, said Lynn Sweet in Politics Daily, but “he made plenty of headlines.” Appearing on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and Univision—but not Fox—Obama said he was undecided on sending more troops to Afghanistan, downplayed racism as a motive for his critics but scolded TV news for rewarding “rude” behavior, and talked a lot about health care reform.

The five interviews in Obama’s “talk show grand slam” were so “eerily similar,” said Alessandra Stanley in The New York Times, they looked more like “a string of TNT reruns” than Sunday morning’s usual “drama of live politics.” His decision to snub Fox News did “raise a distracting fuss”—and “Fox milked it” for all its worth—but otherwise the most “striking” thing was the “lack of spontaneity.”

Repetitive or not, “the full market blitz by the White House was a crafty move,” said Michael Scherer in Time. It made “the very fact” of Obama doing so many news shows a news story in itself, boosting the volume of his message. The focus on health care also provided a helpful “domestic anchor” to a week full of foreign policy.

He still has one more stop in his “TV blitz”—David Letterman on Monday, said Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post. But Obama’s media marathon isn’t so crafty if it’s “wearing out his welcome on the tube.” Even as he criticized the 24-hour news cycle, it’s clear that Obama is now an “eager player” in it. If he isn’t careful, he’ll end up as “just another programming element.” (watch Peggy Noonan criticize Obama’s TV blitz)

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