Inside The Spin Zone

So Paul Bedard‘s Washington Whispers column has an item today about how Barack Obama is “Sunday poison” in the D.C. ratings market. More nationally, though, the numbers clearly show that Obama is anything but “Sunday poison.” As Bedard also reports, “his appearances helped This Week and Face the Nation gain a second-place finish to NBC’s Meet the Press.” It’s an interesting item less for its news and more for its approach.

We read the item with one question in mind: Where did it come from? Well, it wasn’t any of the Big Three networks, who have been fighting to land Obama, and have good ratings to show for doing so. Overall few people in the industry really take the D.C. ratings market seriously over everything else.

In fact, there’s actually only one network who pushes D.C. market numbers to the exclusion of all others: that would be Fox’s D.C. spokesman Paul Schur, who most Mondays quickly sends around the overnight ratings for the local market (where Fox does very well) and ignores the larger national ratings (where Fox does pretty poorly).

Given that background, dollars to donuts, that “Washington Whispers” column came out of lunch the two Pauls had together at Chef Geoff’s last Wednesday. So then we’re left with this thought: Pushing an item about how a Democratic Senator is “Sunday poison” isn’t really the job of a network spokesperson.

Why is Fox doing the job of Bill Frist‘s press secretary? There’s a thin line between network sour grapes and politically-motivated backstabbing.