ABC Pre-Special Chatter: TV Critics Weigh In

By SteveK 

That ABC health care special broadcast Wednesday from the White House? People are still talking.

• Time Magazine’s James Poniewozik had to scrap his print column this week (“death of print — why can’t you come sooner!”), so he wrote a blog on the subject instead. “The test of the news special will be how well and skeptically ABC can examine Obama’s proposals, hold them to questioning and challenge them with alternatives and critiques,” he writes. “Given the arrangement with the White House and the criticism, the onus will be on them to be especially tough.”

Poniewozik thinks, judging from Charlie Gibson’s debate experience, he’s up for the task. “In any case, I’ll judge after I watch,” he writes. “I’m skeptical that this draws as many eyeballs as Brian Williams eating a hamburger with POTUS. But maybe they’ll get lucky and the President will kill something again.”

• Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik weighed in as well. “I have to say in fairness that I do not believe ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and the others allow their news operations to be used by the White House for partisan political reasons,” he writes. “Based on my experience, I believe it is more a matter of business: Obama means strong ratings, and they will do almost anything to get him on their channel or network given the business he brings with him.”

He also discussed Pres. Obama’s recent comments about FNC. “Given all the reckless and irresponsible words uttered by the likes Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, I hesitate to write these words, but good for Fox. It must be doing something right, if it has the president complaining about the tiny bit of scrutiny he gets on TV.

“On the other hand, if Fox News is our last, best TV watchdog on the White House, then the TV press, as well as media critics like me, should be profoundly embarrassed, and vow to start doing a better job — immediately.”