THE NEW MEME TAKES ROOT…. Eugene Robinson had a column a couple of weeks ago in which he argued, in relation to media criticism of President Obama, “It didn’t work to shout ‘socialism,’ so now they’re yelling ‘overload’ and ‘lack of focus.'”
Except, that didn’t work either, so now they’re yelling “over-exposed.”
CNN’s Anderson Cooper last night spoke at some length about the idea of the president of the United States being “over-exposed.” Cooper compared Obama’s media appearances, including his press conference, to ABC airing “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” too much, to the point that Americans got “sick of it.”
Cooper’s hardly the only one. Indeed, Jason Linkins had a good piece yesterday on the media’s “obsession” with this idea of Obama benig “over-exposed.”
Chris Rovzar’s take rings true.
As hard as certain members of the media have tried to make this “overexposure” meme into a legitimate story, it’s just not…. It’s not even that Obama is trying to earn the obvious positives that come with campaign-style selling of his positions (which no doubt he is). It’s that he’s doing very basically what a president should do — explaining the problems facing the country to a nervous public, going above and beyond to appear like he knows what he’s doing, and trying to make his decisions as transparent as possible. If it smells at all of desperation, consider the context: For the past eight years we had a president notorious for opaque governing. George Bush wouldn’t address the country even in times of need, and when he did, his answers to questions in press conferences were often simple, evasive, and even touchy. After that, of course it seems like Obama is going above and beyond the call of duty with a handful of candid appearances. […]
In a month, the media will forget this overexposure meme as the public gets used to being regularly reminded of Obama’s steady hand on the wheel. In fact, you can bet that if a week or two go by without a public appearance by the president, you’ll eventually see headlines shouting, “WHERE’S BARACK?” Can we just skip ahead to that, now?
Honestly, I’m not even sure what the “over-exposed” meme is supposed to mean. Americans will somehow like the president less if he’s on television, talking about national crises?
As Michelle Cottle noted, “Overexposure is what happens to some twitty starlet who winds up on the cover of all the tabloids 10 weeks running for doing little more than changing her underwear (or, just as often, for not wearing any). Obama is the newly minted president confronted with extraordinary crises. People need to see him and hear what he’s trying to do to get the country back on track early and often.”
As is often the case, there may be a disconnect between the public and what the media thinks the public wants. Early estimates suggest more than 40 million Americans tuned in to last night’s press conference — not including those who tuned in via the cable networks.
Some pundits may mind Obama’s willingness to talk publicly about the issues, but quite a few Americans feel differently.