The networks’ ‘goodwill’

THE NETWORKS’ ‘GOODWILL’…. President Obama will host a prime-time news conference tomorrow night, presumably to answer questions about the economy and his stimulus package. We’re in a time of crisis, and it stands to reason the president wants to respond to Americans’ concerns.

The networks, however, are apparently having a fit. The press conference, they say, will eat up an hour of prime time, which may cost broadcasters “more than $9 million in lost ad revenue.”

One network exec whined, “Do people really want to come home after looking for a job, or after being at a job they hate, sit down to veg out in front of their favorite show — and he’s on again?” The exec went on to say that the typical American’s reaction might be “nothing he’s going to say is going to help me get a job, or put food on the table,” adding, “He could lose a lot of goodwill doing this.”

Eric Boehlert responded:

Combined, the networks control more than one hundred hours of primetime programming each week. Obviously, they can make-up a handful of lost ad slots because of Obama’s primetime address, just as networks have done for decades.

And then there are the bitter, nameless TV execs quoted in the article. (Ungrateful suits whose networks have made billions using the public airwaves free of charge.) The unvarnished disdain for Obama and the contempt for public discourse expressed is just astounding.

Maybe the networks got spoiled by a press-averse president for eight years, but the notion that the president might want to field a few questions, and address Americans’ concerns in the midst of a economic crisis, seems pretty reasonable — which more than I can say for executives’ whining.

I’d just add one thing: many of these same networks that are poised to lose some ad revenue (ABC, CBS, NBC) are the same outlets that want to cash in on President Obama’s popularity. When he can make them a few bucks in DVD sales, the networks love the president. When he wants an hour of prime time to address a national crisis, Obama runs the risk of “losing a lot of goodwill.”