Just a few short months ago, President Obama was assured blanket, prime-time network coverage every time he sneezed. Remember those days? He'd hold a press conference every week or so, and Dancing with the Stars would get bumped and everybody would cry silent tears as the President explained that nobody should panic but the economy was about to explode.
President Obama was popular back then, more popular than Britney Spears and the Snuggie combined, so networks didn't feel like they could really fight back against the celebrity juggernaut by refusing to carry his prime-time press conferences. They didn't want to look greedy, even as they slowly bled advertising dollars. And they didn't want to look like they were colluding to keep Americans in the dark about the new president's most pressing initiatives.
But now, just a few months later, the tables have turned. His approvals ratings are even lower than George Bush's were six months into his first term. Democrats and Republicans alike are giving him pushback on major initiatives like healthcare. And suddenly the networks are treating him like yesterday's news.
Earlier this week the president announced he'd be holding a prime-time press conference on Wednesday, and instead of obligingly clearing their schedules, the major networks were slow to react. CBS announced first that they'd carry the president's press conference (because why not, they're just airing repeats on Wednesday night anyhow). Then ABC eventually followed suit, and NBC finally committed as well. Not without some haggling, though!
Fox declined outright to air the news conference. NBC and ABC fell into line late Monday after the White House shifted the event's time from the previously announced 9 p.m. to the lesser-watched hour of 8 p.m.
The president, it seems, is just not as big a "get" as he used to be. And Americans, tired of the news and information and grim data about healthcare and the economy, just want to be left alone to watch their favorite B-list celebrities do the foxtrot in spangled microtards. Is that so much to ask?