President Barack Obama pushed his health care reforms on five morning news shows Sept. 20, an unprecedented presidential feat that has stirred debate over whether Obama has hit the point of overexposure.
This comes after last weekend’s “60 Minutes” appearance, a recent turn in “Men’s Health” and, for those who are really counting, a total of 117 media interviews (66 for TV) in his eight months as president.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
But for all the punditry over the “omnipresent Obama,” the consensus from most strategists is that Obama’s media carpet-bombing is a no-brainer, given his talents and the crucial juncture at which health care reform now stands.
“Are they running the risk of wearing out his welcome? Probably someday,” said Dan Schnur, an ex-spokesman for GOP presidential hopeful John McCain.
Then again, added Schnur, Obama is his administration’s own best spokesman. “And if your biggest policy priority is health care, then exactly what else are you saving him for?”
The answer, apparently, is nothing. Monday night, he took his health care blitz to “The Late Show With David Letterman.”
White House insiders concede there is a bit of media jujitsu in the five sitdowns (which, in fact, were all taped Friday).
First, by having Obama do so many shows, the effort itself becomes news. Beyond that, this White House has long recognized that the days of three dominant networks are dead, and that most people get their news from multiple sources and platforms.
“This is just an attempt by the president to speak to as many different people as he can,” said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs.
Others note that at a time when the right is all but demonizing Obama over health care, deploying the president just assures he gets top billing over critics.
“The thing about being president is that you can always get the voter’s attention when necessary,” said Schnur.
Obama’s decision to hit five network shows Sunday—ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” CNN’s “State of the Nation,” CBS’ “Face the Nation,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Univision’s “Al Punto with Jorge Ramos”—is known in media circles as “the Full Ginsburg.”
It is so named after William Ginsburg, who in 1998 became the first person to hit five shows in one Sunday as the attorney for White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Hillary Clinton later did it when she launched her presidential bid in 2007.
Obama is the first president to even try, which just underscores his comfort level with the medium, experts said.