Memo: How many “campaign appearances” involve sitting on a couch with five professional television personalities? President Obama’s appearance on ABC’s The View, was exactly that: a television appearance; a light discussion of issues and personal insights without the fury or heat of real political debate or the passion and thrust of a campaign appearance.
This new round of the President finding media space in order to share his views with a broad audience falls more in the realm of his use of Twitter and Facebook in the last campaign. If there is a “blurring of lines,” it is in how the old media forms and new social media are merging content and tone and style. Its more about that than the breaking down of the hard categories of news and entertainment, which were really dismantled by the media itself!
The “get” here is not The Views–it’s Obama’s! They took the credit, but Obama got the “cred.” It is “historic” because a sitting President used a network show (when others are hotly pursuing cable!) to gain direct exposure to an audience of 800,000, in a time segment that involved a long “interview,” whose sound bites that will be re-broadcast across all video platforms.
No politician or national leader understands how to use media platforms with more skill and finesse than President Obama. Whether it’s the short interview form, the action clip (him playing basketball with Clark Kellog during the NCAA basketball tournament), the streamed video of White House events from concerts to cultural celebrations and bill signings, or the variety of guest shots, the President and his team excell at adapting and changing the structure of media interface to serve the purpose of the tangibles and intangibles of politics.
For a man in a “vortex” (cited in The Times’ Art Beat), the President certainly looked relaxed on The View. He give a “shout-out” to Michelle and give The View “props” all in the same sentence; he flunked the irrelevant (“Snookie”) and got to play his favorite roles of father and professor and polite confessor. His appearance was more feather preening.
As it was against Clark Kellog in the staged basketball game, his objective was to score. All points count in politics.