“Obama should change his middle name from Hussein to Nielsen,” said Gail Shister, a writing instructor at the University of Pennsylvania (and TVNewser columnist) to AP’s David Bauder for a piece on President Obama’s relationship with the networks.
Strong public interest in the president and his policies explains why so many people in television, magazines and newspapers want to speak to him, said Mark Whitaker, Washington bureau chief for NBC News.
Jon Banner, veteran executive producer of ABC’s “World News,” said the White House has clearly sought to make Obama more available to networks than recent presidents have been. Obama is personally popular, more so than his policies at this point, and he’s his own best salesman, he said.
And the President delivers with ratings, as Bauder points out:
• Bauder calls NBC’s “Inside the Obama White House” a hit, for a network that’s starved for hits.
• He says two of the three most-watched episodes of “60 Minutes” last TV season were devoted to Obama, topped by the 25.1 million people who watched Steve Kroft conduct the first postelection interview with the president-elect in November.
• And that CBS’ “Face the Nation” had its biggest audience of the year when Obama appeared in March.
• ABC’s prime-time discussion with the president on health care last month did better in its time slot than anything else ABC had put on in six weeks. The “Nightline” that completed the discussion that night beat David Letterman and Conan O’Brien in the ratings.
Related: Politico‘s Michael Calderone writes “Obama coverage pays for networks” and Greg Sargent’s The Plum Line: “The Press Corps Versus The White House, Part Two” on last week’s health care town hall meeting.