The Overexposure Of "Overexposure"

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Early on in the Obama presidency, The Hill published a news analysis piece on the "meaninglessness of the 24/7 news cycle." Author Scott Nance counseled the journalists "who contribute to the multimedia cacophony" to "rethink their place in the universe," and reserved special ire for the contrived narrative that the president -- by default the most visible public figure in the country, perhaps the world -- could possibly be "overexposed" [via Nexis]:

And, in perhaps the greatest irony of all for those who are themselves the ones feeding and perpetuating the constant stream of mostly soundbites and general bloviation that calls itself news and analysis -- you would think that Obama himself is just talking too darn much under some threat of being "overexposed."

Like the proverbial game of telephone, these storylines just get more exaggerated and overblown as they are repeated to fill TV airtime, column inches in a newspaper, or lines of text on blogs.

That Obama proved the truth of that this week with his primetime White House press conference probably says as much, or more, about how pointless much of the so-called 24/7 news cycle really is, as it does about the president himself.

Sure, people are real angry about AIG greed, but most Americans continue to express confidence in Obama and his policies. Following Tuesday's primetime presidential press conference -- and after a week of Obama getting hammered for being under attack and "overexposed" -- a national study among 1,375 Americans revealed that confidence levels increased among both Democrats and independents regarding the president's approach to the nation's critical issues like the economy, education, and the federal budget. Confidence levels decreased only among Republicans, a group likely to have a negative impression of Obama anyway.

That advice appears not to have been fully absorbed.

Click over to the front page of The Hill this morning and you'll see this headline prominently advertised: "Obama runs risk of overexposure with his most recent media blitz." The story itself carries zero weight, chronicling as it does the many public appearances of a public figure who is embarking on a publicity tour -- also known as a reelection campaign:

To be sure, the president has been contending with particularly significant issues lately, including the end of the war in Iraq, that have fed a need to go to the media. And the strategy of a 24-7 Obama on the television has worked before for the White House.

Still, there are new risks in the most recent flurry of activity given the president's dismal poll numbers and the reality that voters have been hearing from the president a lot over the past three years.

To underscore the vapidity of the exercise, the first person quoted in the piece is Doug Schoen, the "Democratic consultant" who champions Republican causes and whose analyses have long-since sacrificed the assumption of good-faith. Schoen wants the president to be "less visible," which is perhaps a fallback position from his much-mocked call for Obama to abandon reelection altogether.

Stories like these, as The Hill rightly observed in 2009, are meaningless filler. They add nothing, but do provide one more horribly vacant talking point for talking heads who traffic in such banalities to mindlessly regurgitate during their afternoon cable news hit.

The Hill
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