President Obama holds town hall-style meeting without leaving home -- event was simulcast over the internet and people were invited to submit questions through the Web.
After hitting "The Tonight Show", "60 Minutes" and a second prime-time press conference in as many months, is President Obama over-exposed? Is there too much politicking going on here, asks CNN's Bill Schneider?
Good question. After all, Obama also added a first: He hosted a town-hall meeting where he didn't even have to leave town -- or the White House, for that matter. Instead, he invited 100 select guests to the East Room and conducted the meeting with an Internet simulcast that urged viewers to submit their own questions.
Obama sees multi-level communicating as an essential part of governing.
Yes, it's a risk -- it may end up being too much. However, it's also the case that communicating an administration's agenda to the public isn't as easy as it once was. The audience has scattered -- away from the three main network news broadcasts. Newspaper readership has collapsed (especially among the young); indeed, newspapers themselves are in serious trouble: Both the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ceased daily print publication this month (the News will continue as an Internet only entity). And bad news is spreading throughout the industry.
So, while Republicans deride Obama as the Teleprompter President (the use of which former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson defended Friday), he actually has become the Multimedia-Platform President: The first technological upgrade he performed as president was making the weekly radio address also available as a YouTube video -- immediately making it available to more people who can access it on a repeated basis. Younger people are more likely to get their news on the Internet than they are in newspapers or television; thus, the Internet townhall meeting.
Many Americans get their political information from late-night television monologues; thus, he does "The Tonight Show." (Need evidence that Obama knows the difference between campaigning and governing? At the end of the campaign, he went on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. Now, that he's in the White House, he chats with Jay Leno.)
Furthermore, while still making himself more available to traditional media than recent presidents (he's on "Face The Nation" this week), the continued use of the Internet also allows him to make more direct appeals to the American public. Obama is gambling that these strategies allow him to create a more personal connection between himself and the public -- which will keep up support for his agenda.
We shall see.
New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots.