Did Oprah’s Obama Endorsement Really Kill Her Ratings?

obamapuppetThe sky is falling! Oprah’s ratings are down 7% last season, and as is the case with all things, this must have something to do with Barack Obama, somehow. In an article about the ratings decline, the AP quotes an author who says that Oprah’s endorsement of Obama has hurt her in the heartland. David Carr follows suit on Media Decoder: he says that Oprah’s decline is “understandable against a backdrop of atomizing audiences,” but could be because she alienated part of her base by going political.

It’s a theory, but does it pass the sniff test?

Too often, when the AP writes about the stock market, they feel the annoying need to make every little blip and bloop “about” something that happened that day — when in fact, many are near-random fluctuations, or reflective of broader trends. It’s the same with TV ratings.

According to TVbytheNumbers, who should know about this sort of thing, “for a while, we were getting multiple requests a week to look at that data, and whenever we looked at it, we couldn’t come up with anything to actually support the case. At least unless we could somehow attribute decreases with Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune to Oprah’s endorsement of Obama too.” You have to get to the fifth paragraph of the AP article to see that Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, and Martha Stewart all took double-digit tumbles last season.

A comparison: this Broadcasting & Cable article from February, right after the nomination, claims that Oprah’s support of Obama helped her ratings — even though oh yeah, lots of other top talk show hosts were experiencing similar gains at the time. Maybe… both of these Oprah fluctuations have something to do with talk shows in general?

The 9/12 crowd would love to take credit for the fall of a major TV icon that they don’t like and make puppeteering posters about (above). Maybe, in time, they’ll be able to make that claim. But until there’s hard proof that this is at all political and not, you know, about young people not watching her show because it’s really boring, let’s stick to the important things. Like making parody Tumblrs about Kanye’s VMA outburst.

Time For Obama To Pitch His Health Care Plan Kanye West-Style

obama-addressPresident Obama just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to holding the nation’s attention with details of his health care plan. Perhaps the President should embrace a ‘if you can’t beat’em, join’em’ mentality and stage his own outburst. It may be a good last resort before all is lost. Consider this.

Last Wednesday Obama made the unusual move of calling a joint session of Congress, once again occupying the airwaves (sans FOX), to once again pitch his health care plan and hopefully clear up some misconceptions about what it does and does not consist of. It was by most people’s measure a fantastic speech…and yet it was mostly lost amidst all the ongoing hubub over Joe Wilson’s “You Lie” outburst.image5302808x

On Saturday, Obama sought to follow up Wednesday’s address with a health care plan rally in Minneapolis. Saturday was also known to some 70,000 rambunctious sign-wavers as 9/12, and it was that outburst of sign wavers, marching around Washington, who dominated both the cablers and the next-day coverage.

kanyetaylorBeing nothing if not persistent, Obama appeared this Sunday 60 Minutes for a second time in six months (video below) to talk to Steve Kroft about…the health care plan. 60 Minutes airs at 7pm ET, which last night put it somewhere between Serena Williams’ outburst at Saturday’s U.S. Open and Kanye West’s Taylor Swift-directed outburst at the VMA’s. The President really just needs everyone — everyone — to shut the hell up for seven days so he can get his point across!

There is a chance Obama will have another shot at the headline ring. Rumors abound he is set to appear on tonight’s debut of The Jay Leno Show…with special guest Kanye West. Perhaps the Prez can get a few outburst notes from the master. Outbursts have appeared to paid off for everyone else.

President Obama Talks Health Care on 60 Minutes

Watch CBS Videos Online

Maureen Dowd Plays The Obama Race Card

protest_600Perhaps the most amazing thing about Maureen Dowd’s column this Sunday is it is the first time I have heard someone in the mainstream press suggest that Joe Wilson’s heckling of the President last Wednesday was racially motivated. It is perhaps a measure of how Obama is viewed by the nation, and the press, that despite this summer’s name-calling, town hall circuses, and yesterday’s deranged 9/12 tea party, that eight months in to the nation’s first black presidency the only person to be labeled a racist thus far is the president himself, and by none other than Glenn Beck (nuff said there).

But MoDo isn’t afraid to go there. In Sunday’s column, Dowd takes a larger look at the role South Carolina has played in national racial politics in the past, suggests they are still occupying that role, and moreover fears that all the name-calling directed at the President this summer is motivated by underlying racial fear.

Every once in a while Maureen Dowd aims for the fences with her columns, and whether you agree with her conclusion or not, this is one of those times. And being that she not only has a tendency to press buttons but occupies one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in journalism, I think it’s a fair bet that this will become a talking point for the cablers tomorrow. And no, she does not suggest the President and Joe Wilson sit down for a beer. The whole column is worth a read, but here’s what she had to say, at a glance.

Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!
The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear” the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ’48 segregationist candidate for president. Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.

I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race…But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

Photo via.

Obama, J.K. Rowling Among Top-Requested Authors by Gitmo Detainees

obama-potterIt’s surprising to many that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay has a library, but it does — and an extensive one at that. The U.S. military likes to hold up the library as proof that detainees are treated humanely; while that’s open to debate, they sure do have a lot of books to read. According to PRI, the library has thousands of volumes in sixteen languages, “including English, Arabic, Farsi, Pashtu, Urdu and Uzbek,” including poetry, history, fiction, comic books, and religious texts.

When pan-Arab newspaper Dar Al-Hayat asked the librarian at Guantanamo Bay what the most-requested books were, this is what they found:

1. The Harry Potter novels, by J.K. Rowling

2. Don Quixote, by Cervantes

3. Dreams from my Father, by Barack Obama

…followed by Muslim holy texts.

In the article, no explanation is given for why these particular books were so popular, but one of the entries is sure to rile up a lot of conservatives — and it isn’t Don Quixote.

There’s lots more fascinating analysis of this list — including an analogy made by an actual Guantanamo Bay prisoner between Bush and Voldemort — at Times Online’s Comment Central.

(image from fanboy.com)

h/t Comment Central via The Morning News

Did President Obama Call The Media Liars Last Night?

obamacare_175841gm-aOverlooked in much of the post-speech, “You Lie!” chatter last night was the fact that President Obama also used the word “lie” in his address and not just to describe (smackdown!) Sarah Palin and her death-panel assertions. He also, rather boldly, called out the “bogus claims” of “radio and cable talk show hosts.”

Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but by prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

Had Rep. Joe Wilson not grabbed the “lie” meme so forcefully (he’s now the top trending topic on Twitter) one imagines we’d be hearing a lot more this morning about whether the President of the United States was accusing the media of being liars in front of a joint session of Congress. Or whether his promise (threat?) that “I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than to improve it” was a shot across the bows to a certain Glenn Beck, among others.

After the speech George Stephanopolous noted that, in addition to Wilson’s hecking, “I also can’t ever remember a President using the word ‘lie’ in a Joint Session or State of the Union speech.” It is strong language indeed — it is one thing for the President to complain about the press, it is another indeed for him to accuse them of reporting lies, in such a formal setting, no less. Considering the beating the Obama administration took this summer courtesy of much of the Town Hall coverage, and again this past week with the resignation of Van Jones at the hands of Beck, one wonders whether President Obama was also signaling to the cable newsers that he will no longer take this lying down.

Why Losing The Press Is A Win For Obama

tumblr_kp7iqyifao1qz7908o1_500Andrew Sullivan writes that President Obama has gone from ‘The One’ to “The Doomed.” Politico says Obama appears to be “surrendering” to the right-wing lunatic fringe (also, Fox). And yesterday New York Times columnist David Carr noted that Obama, “the silkiest executive communicator to come along since Ronald Reagan,” is no longer the master of his own message.

Sounds dire doesn’t it. Especially considering this is a key week for Obama: he’s made the unusual move of calling a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, in order to talk one final time about the health care bill (keeping in mind the Van Jones debacle perhaps he should reconsider using a chalkboard). Then again, it also sounds like perfect timing.

More than one person who watched President Obama’s Labor Day speech in Ohio noted that the President sounded like he was back on the campaign trail. Fired up! Ready to Go! And what is the first rule of good campaigning? Lowered expectations. It’s a trick most of the candidates employed before big debates last year (or in the case of Sarah Palin, before most appearances). Make the public believe you are down and out, show up in a blaze of glory (or at least coherent) and voila! The storyline is all about your triumphant return.

The cable and blogosphere meme between now and tomorrow night will be that Obama has lost the message, has lost support, has lost his ability to own his own coverage. Between the Town Halls, Van Jones, and boycotting school children, the seven and a half month old presidency has not had a lot going for it these past two months, which basically means that the stage (and the news cycle) is perfectly set for Obama’s triumphant return from the summer of his discontent. The summer is over, people have less time on their hands, Glenn Beck has just succeeded in ousting a White House official. News cycles don’t like it when there’s one winner for too long. Obama has had his knocking down, get ready for the Obama Returns! Impresses! Surprises! headlines.