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Barack Obama, Media Darling or Devilish Media?

Senator Barack Obama is departing for Iraq, Afghanistan, and points in Europe. After meeting with General Petraeus and doing some fact-finding in the Middle East and while in Europe Obama will enjoy a media spotlight that many Republicans say proves the media's bias toward the Democrats. All three of the major networks' evening news anchors will travel to Europe to cover Obama.

So, Republicans are upset, are they? After more than seven years of the media handling President Bush with kid gloves, they are upset that the media has a new darling? During the debates in 2000, the media marveled at how "presidential" Bush looked on television. Most media outlets refused to ask tough questions while Bush fabricated a case to invade Iraq. After invading Iraq, the media, and half of the Democrats themselves for that matter, rolled over and allowed Bush the wartime presidential political capital that he, according to recent revelations by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, coveted from the time of his candidacy. Republicans even have their very own media network in the forms of Fox News and many "Christian" outlets. So, what gives?


From a purely business standpoint (one that you would think business-savvy Republicans would be familiar with), the Obama "brand" is simply selling better than "brand" McCain, at least at this point in the election cycle. Consider the markeplace of media attention. For example, on the final night of the primaries and after Obama won his final state, he spoke to a packed arena. McCain, surely knowing that politics would dominate news cycles that day, spoke to 300 older worn-out looking southern white people. McCain should have organized a huge event for that date, but instead, his campaign allowed itself to get painfully outclassed. This is not the media's fault.

I would submit that Obama is great at generating his own media attention. The idea of an American presidential candidate speaking at the Brandenburg Gate made headlines around the world for days on end, even if there was a question as to whether the event will actually take place (I just now learned that it won't). By contrast, an American presidential candidate speaking to a few hundred older generation white people at a VFW hall in Middle America counts for shit in anything but the local papers. AZCentral.com recently reported that McCain, "met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at the Casa de Huespedes Ilustres, the Colombian version of Camp David, on the grounds of a naval academy across the bay from Cartagena's colonial district." A news conference was also on McCain's Columbian agenda. While such a stately visit is all well and good, it is very much a run-of-the-mill event. Obama, while nixing the idea of a major speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, still plans a major public address to the German People which will probably draw thousands (tens of thousands?) and make headlines for its sheer novelty. ABC, NBC, and CBS will send large contingents of reporters including their evening news anchors. Again, this isn't the media's fault – Obama just created a must-cover event. Since the networks compete with one another for viewers and, subsequently advertising dollars, none can afford to miss the Obama event. Bear in mind, the networks' primary responsibilities are (perhaps unfortunately) to shareholders, not the information-hungry public.

Note to Republicans: Democrats and Republicans are COMPETING for the media's attention. It's as if there's something about competition that the Republicans don't understand. For the first time in a long time, the Democrats have assembled a winning team. Republicans would be wise to stop whining about the devilish ways of the media and start getting creative in figuring out how to use the media to capture the public's attention and adoration.

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