President Obama starts his marathon round of interviews today ahead of Sunday’s “el Completo” when he will appear on five networks (but not Fox). On Monday he does Letterman. On Wednesday he addresses the UN. All of this follows last week’s joint session address, and this week’s ‘jackass’ remark. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a total surprise that it appears the press is about to dust off and cart out the “Obama media saturation” meme.
Granted Obama is doing a lot of television, but he’s been doing a lot of it all along and it’s not like the President has suddenly launched a tumblr! (Though I do think he should reconsider the chalkboard this weekend. Also, Office Hours!) However here are some early warning signs that if the President does not succeed in selling this health care bill, or at least appear to divert the debate even a little bit, next week’s conversation, and at least the cover of one weekly, is going to be all about how too much Obama has diluted Obama’s power.
The New York Timeswants to know whether “the president cheapening his currency by being so visible? Or is he simply being media savvy?”
Sound familiar? Last time the NYT addressed the saturation question (in July) the paper quoted Joe Trippi saying “It’s a risk of overexposure…If you use it all up on health care, you may not be able to use it on something else. But if you’re going to risk using it all up, this is the one to risk it on.”
CBS’s Mark Knoller, jokes that Obama may be missing some stops on his media train and should consider other cable show options like The Food Network, Animal Planet, and “Dog the Bounty Hunter.’
Over at ABC, The Note’s Rick Klein wants to know “If Obama has something new to say“: “Now comes President Obama’s latest big moment — except it’s really three or four days’ worth of moments…It’s the president’s chance (as if heeded to create them) to say his piece — over and over, and over and over, and over and over. It’s not a bad time to say something new.
How much is your Facebook page worth to Facebook? Probably a few hundred dollars, according to a Facebook app, Viral Loop, that’s collecting data as it is promoting a book of the same name. How much are celebrities’ pages worth? For many, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
Viral Loop lets you quantify the value of your Facebook profile by weighting the traffic on your Facebook page, how many friends you have, and their Facebook activity, in addition to other factors, has begun pitting celebrities against each other in what we can only hope is an expanding feature.
We’ve covered Viral Loop in the past as both an interesting commentary on our times and a sly marketing strategy: as we wrote then, “what makes Penenberg’s take interesting is that while promoting the book, it is also entirely topical. It would be the equivalent writing a book about eBay and marketing the book through a series of online auctions.”
But the new leaderboard, available at Fastcompany.com, takes it a step further by throwing celebrities into the mix and putting their values out on the line.
Here are some interesting findings:
Michael Jackson leads with a value of more than $2 million, nearly quadruple the value of God
Despite his Twitter dominance, Ashton Kutcher is in the middle of the pack, valued at $630,466 as of posting
Megan Fox’s Facebook page is worth close to $1 million
Federer beats Nadal: $588k versus $410k
Vin Diesel comes very close to beating Barack Obama; why??
Check the full leaderboard out here. It’s fun, provocative, and not to be taken too seriously, but it underscores the wealth of data available on Facebook — and to Facebook’s creators.
With sagging poll numbers and an enormous health care debate on his hands (among a litany of other presidential responsibilities), Barack Obama found time yesterday to host celebrity supporters Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony yesterday in the oval office. According to GossipCop, the occasion for the visit was to celebrate Marc Anthony’s 41st birthday, and included the celebrity couple’s twin 19 month-old toddlers Max and Emma, who reportedly “ran wild” in the White House: .
On Wednesday, the couple began a whirlwind visit to Washington, DC, where they were first given a private tour of the White House, along with their 19-month-old children Emma and Max. Gossip Cop is told that while his parents spoke with Obama, little Max amused himself and “ran wild around the Oval Office.”
The celebrity couple met up again later in the evening with Obama at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual awards gala, where backstage before the president spoke, Obama led senators and members of congress in singing “Happy Birthday” to Anthony, who was honored at the event with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Lopez and Anthony were seated at the awards ceremony with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whom you may recall Gossip Cop exclusively reported was the guest of honor at a private dinner party the celebrity couple threw at their Long Island, New York home on August 17.
Marc Anthony’s rep went on to tell Gossip Cop, “Marc said he couldn’t have had a more perfect birthday.”
Anderson Cooper got hoorahs for “doing his homework” and “destroying”Mark Williams, during their interview earlier this week. Williams is a relatively unknown as a radio host and FNC regular until he became a national leader of the “Tea Parties” happening all over the country in protest of Obama’s healthcare reform. He’s been making his rounds at CNN the last few days, and spoke with Anderson Cooper about the controversial happenings at the Tea Parties.
Cooper: “Do you believe he’s Indonesian? Do you believe he’s a Muslim? Do you believe he’s a welfare thug?”
Williams: “He’s certainly acting like it.”
The confrontation then dwindles down and the conversation drifts to calm discussion about the nature of the protests.
What remains unaddressed though, in this interview and in mainstream media since Obama’s religious identity was ever an issue, is the blatant racism from both parties against people of Muslim faith. Unrecognized by Cooper and by anyone who went on to blog about the interview afterward is how Williams used the words “Indonesian Muslim” in a degrading and overall negative manner. By not condemning Williams for using those words in such a context, the mainstream media is making it acceptable to associate Muslims with such negative terms as “welfare thug” and “racist in chief.” If any other nationality or religion were to be replaced, there would be an unbelievable amount of outrage. But for whatever reason, when we use the word Muslim, it’s an acceptable synonym for extremist and irrational.
By asking Williams if he actually believes Obama is Indonesian or Muslim, Anderson Cooper is not only failing to confront Williams for his prejudice against an entire population, but he’s also obliging in the racist discourse against Muslims, and giving credibility to an argument that is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand (which is, if you can believe it, supposed to be healthcare).
However, the media cannot adequately fight for a cause that even the President and his administration shy away from. Achieving justice for the Muslim image in the media is difficult, if not impossible, because even the government contributes to the stigmatization of the Muslim faith.
Since the beginning of his run for presidency, Obama has sprinted away from, in fear of political ruin, any notion that he is a Muslim or is associated with Islam. Two incidents stand out in my mind as particularly disappointing.
A few months later, in October, a political storm erupted around Rashid Khalidi, a Columbia professor of Middle East studies and passionate defender of Palestinian rights (and rumored to have worked with the PLO, though the rumor was later concluded to be false). Obama had apparently spoke at a dinner in 2003 that honored the scholar (the two had become friends in the late 80s when Khalidi was a professor at UChicago). When confronted by Jewish voters in Florida about his association with the professor, Obama stutters before saying “I do know him, he is not one of my advisors.” The two had known each other for 20 years at that point. However, once the election began, Khalidi could no longer be referred to as a friend – only dismissed as an acquaintance in an effort to win the affections of our dear Jewish grandparents in Boca Raton who were afraid they would be electing an anti-Semite to office:
And though he has been the President for 9 months now, a link remains on Obama’s webpage to fight off the associations. It is a “fact check action center” called “Fight the Smears,” in which irrelevant and polarizing rumors like “Barack Obama Won’t Say the Pledge of Allegiance/Put His Hand Over His Heart” are addressed and followed by the truth.
There are several “smears” which discuss the rumor that Obama is a Muslim. But fortunately, the fact check center tells us “the truth about Barack Obama’s faith.” This is how they systematically debunk the rumors:
There is one thing that remains unaddressed in this entire vehicle of truth: the fact that we live in America, and Muslims, along with people of any other religion, are allowed to be President. By so adamantly and repeatedly denying these rumors, Barack Obama is telling the truth. However, he is also perpetuating the implication that a Muslim should never or could never make it to the White House. He shouldn’t be confronting the media for calling him a Muslim, he should be confronting them for even presenting it as a relevant question.
So for once, the media isn’t entirely to blame for perpetuating a negative and detrimental connotation. Until the leader of the country can shout from the rooftops that there’s nothing wrong with being Muslim, we can’t expect our news anchors to put forward that notion.
Despite the growing criticism from his own side of the aisle over yesterday’s remarks that much of the anger directed at President Obama is racially motivated, former President Jimmy Carter kept hammering at it last night during an address in Atlanta. Only this time Carter was a tad more specific, targeting those “demonstrators” as who describe Obama “as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, or when they wave signs in the air that we should have buried Obama with Kennedy” as having a “racist attitude.”
Is this a sign that Carter is planning on going after Glenn Beck? (One imagines the White House is very much hoping otherwise.) The presence of the Obama/Kennedy signs at last weekend’s 9/12 rally were well documented, and last month Beck made headlines for comparing aspects of Obama’s health care plan, to the Nazi’s eugenics program during WWII. The Obama as Hitler signs, meanwhile, made their appearance during some of the more rowdy town halls this summer. It’s hard to miss Carter’s insinuation here.
Regardless of what Carter’s long-term goal is with these sorts of remarks, President Obama wants nothing to do with it. From today’sNew York Times:
But this time the White House has made clear that it does not want to engage on the topic, which beyond threatening to distract attention from the health care push could also put further strain on Mr. Obama’s broad but tenuous electoral coalition of liberals and moderates, Democrats and independents. Signaling that he had no intention of lending his voice to Mr. Carter’s accusation, the president declined to answer a reporter’s question on the subject in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
Whether or not that’s realistic remains to be seen. Carters full remarks below.
Politico has nabbed (not so fast! updates below) the video of President Obama’s now infamous (image saving?) “jackass” remark. It’s a fairly jolly scene! The journalist we heard hooting in the background yesterday, turns out to be John Harwood himself, who thinks the remark in hi-larious. However, any pretense that Obama’s remark was reasonably going to be kept on the down-low is done away with when it becomes clear the President is surrounded by cameras and already miked. His look of exasperation at the room’s response is nothing if not well-practiced.
UPDATE: And now Politico appears to have removed it. Because they feel it’s off-the-record? Can it really still be considered OTR now that it’s become such a public event? Yowzer. Even Mark Knoller doesn’t seem to think the interaction can reasonably be considered off-the-record anymore. Did Politico merely chicken out? Were they on the receiving end of a phone call from the higher-higher ups? It’s hard to imagine them removing such traffic bait for any other reason. We have an email into Politico and will update when we hear back.
UPDATE 2: Politico tells us “We just felt upon reflection that it was more respectful to a fellow news-gathering operation to take it down.”
UPDATE 3: YouTube saves the day! Apparently CNN has no OTR issues with airing the video Politico scooped. You can watch it above. Original Politico link below.
Yesterday we reported that President Obama — who has made more public appearances than perhaps any sitting president in history — will be doing a “El Completo Ginsburg” on Sunday, hitting five Sunday shows. On Monday he’ll be on Letterman. It may be that the health care bill gets passed based purely Obama’s persistent willingness to shill for it.
Then again, maybe not. The media deluge of the last few weeks certainly hasn’t appeared to change the tone of the debate or the headlines. This morning ABC’s Rick Kleintwittered out “read through healthcare headlines today and tell me why POTUS wouldn’t want a full Sunday circuit – if only to try to regain some order.” I still think the President should consider taking a chalkboard with him (or employ the term jackass more liberally). In the meantime, here’s a quick look at today’s headlines. It’s not encouraging.
“Baucus Offers Health Plan, Trimming Cost to $856 Billion” (NYT)