Barack Obama wanted a media fest for his 100th day in office, but the media has grumbled about coughing up valuable prime-time real estate during sweeps week. One broadcaster has decided to RSVP in the negative, and it’s no big surprise which one:
For the first time since Barack Obama took office, a major broadcast network is refusing to grant the president’s request for primetime coverage.
Fox has issued a statement saying it will air regular programming (Lie to Me) Wednesday night instead of Obama’s 100-day news conference.
“The Fox Broadcasting Company will not air the Presidential News Conference on Wednesday, April 29 at 8:00 PM (ET),” Fox said in a statement. “Fox’s sister networks, Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network, will air the press conference in its entirety. Fox will be alerting viewers with an onscreen graphic at the top of the 8:00 PM (ET) hour that the press conference is available on Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network.”
ABC, CBS and NBC have issued statements saying they will carry the president’s telecast.
As James Hibberd notes, Fox has good business reasons for pulling the plug. Their news channel gets most of the attention from the news junkies, so putting the press conference makes less sense for Fox than it does for ABC and CBS, which don’t have a cable outlet option. One has to wonder why NBC doesn’t move their coverage to MS-NBC instead of pre-empting the press conference and splitting the declining audience for Obama pressers with the other two networks, but perhaps they are worried that most of their prime-time audience has no idea which channel MS-NBC is on.
Don’t expect the networks to keep playing along with Obama on prime-time pressers. They’ve been more than kind to him thus far in his presidency, and maybe during the summer they won’t mind bumping reruns, but he’s not special enough any longer to hold viewer interest. Splitting what little interest remains three ways won’t be much more attractive than splitting it four ways. The other broadcasters can use this event to feel superior to Fox for one night, and then use the precedent to take a pass on the future requests.