Obama Overexposed?

obama beachPresident Obama has gone on virtually every network but Fox in a weekend tour de force that continues tonight:

The president’s week-long media blitz has left no other network behind. The president has appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Bloomberg and CNBC and will appear on five public affairs talk shows on Sunday: ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” CBS’s “Face the Nation,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” CNN’s “State of the Union” and Univision’s “Al Punto, con Jorge Ramos.” And he’s doing CBS’ “Late Night with David Letterman” on Monday.

This has some wondering if he’s not overdoing it a mite:

With or without an appearance on Fox, the president’s media blitz is without precedent. Presidents rarely appear on Sunday talk shows; none has ever appeared on so many in one week. And no sitting president has ever been a guest on “Late Night with David Letterman.”

Dana Perino, who served as White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, says the president risks “diluting the bully pulpit” by doing so many interviews in such a short period of time. “The next time they really want to pack a punch, they might have to ask [former House majority leader] Tom DeLay if they can cut in on ‘Dancing with the Stars,'” Perino told ABC News.

It’s a concern echoed by Dee Dee Myers, former White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton. “More isn’t always more when it comes to a president’s words,” Myers told Politico. “This is something they need to start to be concerned about.”

The White House dismisses talk of overexposure. “The president is seeking opportunities to speak to a diverse audience about the importance of comprehensive health insurance reform,” Earnest said. “The more that people learn about what he actually supports, the more people support the plan.”

Howie Kurtz sums up the president’s ubiquity:

Sure, this is a president who has dissected basketball brackets on ESPN, gone for burgers with Brian Williams, showed Steve Kroft his swing set, dissed Kanye West (off the record) with CNBC and ordered a general to shave Stephen Colbert’s head. By that standard, Obama’s Sunday blitz was a mere throat-clearing that, as it turned out, produced little in the way of big news. And some journalists — even as they continue to clamor for access — say he is diluting the product.

“It’s simple,” explains White House communications director Anita Dunn. “In an increasingly fragmented audience that gets information from a number of different sources, putting a huge amount of his time behind one medium increases our ability to really break through and get a message out. The effect of one interview, given how rapidly the news environment moves, doesn’t last as long as it used to.”

But is there such a thing as too many?

While the White House plan was for Obama to focus primarily on health care and Afghanistan, he broke no new ground on either subject, repeating points he has made many times. Some topics varied — “State of the Union” host John King asked about North Korea; “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked about the ACORN scandal — but the game plans were strikingly similar.

The first clips released by the networks — and picked up in news stories — showed the hosts were especially interested in a subject the president has been trying to avoid. They all asked about the recent chatter that some of his critics are motivated by racism. And Obama’s answers took on a certain sameness.

Ronald Reagan famously managed the message by giving very controlled access and basically giving the press no choice but to run with the sound byte of the day since if the president says only two sentences that day, whatever he said is by definition news. But that was before multiple 24/7 cable networks, blogs, TMZ, and all the rest. Maybe the world has just changed.

Veteran Democratic communications strategist Chris Lehane agreed, arguing that for Barack Obama there is no such thing as overexposure. “It’s the Angelina Jolie phenomenon,” said Lehane, a former spokesman for Vice President Al Gore. “People don’t get tired of seeing Angelina Jolie.” Is Lehane comparing President Obama to Angelina Jolie? “Yes. He is a natural talent,” Lehane said. “People do connect with him.”

The president as sex symbol famous for being famous is perhaps just the natural evolution of things.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. odograph says:

    This is news to me. I managed to miss him, which might say something about the MSM in this day and age.

  2. JKB says:

    “People don’t get tired of seeing Angelina Jolie.”

    Great the president is being marketed by People Magazine. But actually we do get tired of seeing Angelina Jolie, but she really only does the media blitz every couple of years for her new movie. And no one really cares what she says. If she was out there week after week for 4 years?

    Sadly, if this continues over-exposure is likely to show its ugly side. Either to garner attention or simply by an unfortunate mistake, we are likely to end up with the presidential equivalent of the pantyless,upskirt shot and that could very well scar the nations psyche. Will Obama be Angelina Jolie or Lindsey Lohan?

  3. mpw280 says:

    The idea that the office might be bigger than him still hasn’t struck home. As to media exposure, make them come to you not go hat in hand to them, should apply to the president in relation to the press. This makes sure the press is hungry for what you have to say not pressured into presenting your ideas as if they were your puppet, oh wait they are looking for a bailout aren’t they. mpw

  4. Jack Bauer says:

    Imagine Obama getting in your face on a TV near you! Forever. (Apologies to Orwell.)

    When voters went to the polls last year, who knew they were voting in a Narcissist-in-Chief?

    Well, most conservatives for many. The first sign of madness in the rich and powerful is when they believe their own publicity some shill made up for them.

    Obama is merely a brand. From Day 1 he has been created, marketed and sold as brand.

    And as a brand, his people have bought crook, lies, ans sinking polls the siren Coca Cola strategy — never let up, never become invisible.

    But the real thing about coke is this — many people LIKE a cold caffeine imbued drink daily.

    The constant advertising is not to convice them they need a cold soda… it’s to make sure they choose Coca-Cola as opposed to… that other brand.

    You can only sell something people are interested in buying. And no amount of exposure is going to turn that around.

    That’s THE FIRST RULE OF ADVERTISING. Well, one of them. There are many fiorst rules in advertising. It’s an imprecise art.

    Fortunately for conservatives (and presumably Republicans) Obama’a inner circle jerk can’t acknowledge that verity.

    Hence the continuation of Obama’s really SMART strategy (they’re all so smart) of appearing on TV 24/7/365.

    But this is just nuts… his skeddie for the rest of next week includes PRODUCT PLACEMENT guest appearances in…

    HOUSE — Locked up in the nut house, House’s life can’t get any worse until he finds he’s under the care of a certain “Dr Obama.” But is he hallucinating?

    FRINGE — Returning from the alternate universe where the twin towers are still standing, Special Agent Olivia Dunham is partnered with a cool black guy who bears a striking resemblance to a certain black President.

    MAD MEN — When the non-speaking black elevator guy leaves for Selma, his cool cousin Barack from Chicago steps in to push those white buttons.

    FAMILY GUY — Stewie is given a “Grow Your Own Obama” kit. Imagine his surprise when the actual President appears and gets the hots for his white cartoon mom.

    TRUE BLOOD — The fey gay, vamp-blood supplying Lafayette discovers his internet pen pal is none other than Barack Obama.

    Okay I made those up… or did I?

  5. An Interested Party says:

    …his cool cousin Barack from Chicago steps in to push those white buttons.

    That would be very appropriate considering he’s already pushed yours…

  6. floyd says:

    Is he Putin II(the sequel)??? or is it too?[lol]

  7. An Interested Party says:

    Awwww…no Stalin comparisons anymore? How disappointing…

  8. floyd says:

    No, but YOUR abject predictability remains intact.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    Oh my…a response of “I know you are but what am I?!”…how very clever of you…

  10. floyd says:

    Seriously PeeWee, That is a nearly perfect non-sequitur!

  11. floyd says:

    Seriously PeeWee, That is a nearly perfect non-sequitur!