Tired of Tradition

Variety‘s Dade Hayes senses Obama fatigue — not from the voters, but the networks. He offers his take on the Obama press conference:

The media’s infatuation with President Obama during the campaign is showing signs of descending into fractiousness and disputation. That much was clear during Tuesday night’s news conference, one of the only times in TV history that a White House briefing focusing on the economy would get on-air promos worthy of a reality series in the days preceding.

Those plugs were just one feature of an unorthodox media tour over the past week as Obama took to ESPN, “The Tonight Show” and the Internet for an online town hall meeting. By comparison, the obvious page in the playbook was last Sunday’s “60 Minutes” appearance. It was in that most button-down of settings where Obama raised eyebrows by laughing at regular intervals and expressing the need for “gallows humor.” Who knew Jay Leno would be more his speed?

There was a lot less of the president’s punchy side Tuesday, especially as it became clear that the traditional outlets who usually get called on first and fill the front rows found themselves being reshuffled. Obama took questions from the likes of Univision and Ebony but didn’t call on the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times.

Reworking Beltway customs has necessarily become an Obama trademark, of course. And his every move seems to boost ratings. But the interesting dynamic at work on Tuesday was the very networks who stand to gain from beaming him into living rooms (even if they won’t often be able to do that commercial-free) are also feeling less favored than in the past. And that’s making some of them start to betray some frustration after just two months.

Obama’s sharpest exchange was with CNN’s Ed Henry, who asked a series of questions about what some would call a slow response from the Administration to the AIG bonuses. “I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak,” he said tartly, and the double meaning of the remark seemed to apply to many media members in the room. The response from the news nets and mainstream outlets as Obama continues on his arduous path — the very one they helped put him on — will no doubt be fascinating to watch.

 

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