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Archive for September 10th, 2009|Daily archive page

Return Of The Mack.

In Media, Politics on September 10, 2009 at 2:25 am

Barack Obama's Health Care Speech on 9/9/09 - Doug Mills/The New York Times

Wednesday was a big day.  New iPods.  Beatles Rock BandDerek Jeter tied Lou Gehrig’s 72-year old record for most hits by a Yankee.

And then, after months of trying to let Congress do what it is supposed to do (pass laws), President Obama came off the bench like a sixth man who is better than the entire starting five and infused the conversation with the proper touch of urgency, decency, and possibility.

In the coming days we will see if Obama can follow up this special joint session address, an uncommonly early second one of his tenure, with a convincing road show but much more importantly some legislative prowess and tenacity.  As he said, “I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it.”  If he is as capable as we are led to believe, then, as Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter and Salon’s Joan Walsh pointed out on The Ed Show post-speech, he should be able to persuade reticent Blue Dogs to go along with him.  After all, they voted for the Bush tax cuts, which were more expensive.

Mark Halperin is weighing the landscape in the wake of the speech as well, categorizing the successes, (“Stiffened the spine of Democrats in Congress”), the risks (most poignant that he has “Fired his best shot, leaving him no obvious option for another galvanizing jump start”), and unanswered items (“How he can inflict political pain on those who try to block him”) for us all to consider.

Alessandra Stanley made an apt comparison about the President’s remarks: “In short, the president tried to do for his health care plan what he did for his candidacy when the issue of race, and the words of his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., threatened to derail his presidential bid last year.” Read the rest of this entry »

Why The Anchor Rancor?

In Media on September 10, 2009 at 1:21 am

Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy in Anchorman  - DreamWorks

Ron Burgundy must be spinning in his grave.  Not one, but two women will be helming the flagship network newscasts?  “Hot pot of coffee!” he would say.  “That is a joke. I’ll even write it down in my diary: ‘Charlie Gibson had a very funny joke today.’  I’m going to laugh about it later tonight.”  Watch out Brian Williams, these cougars are hunting.

Diane Sawyer certainly has the demeanor and presence to set the tone for a network newscast, save that time she got a little tipsy at Obama’s inauguration.

Sawyer will stand on the shoulders of giants when she takes over though, as Barbara Walters, Connie Chung, and, much as they might be perennial rivals, Katie Couric, have all eased the way for her.  That’s purely metaphorical by the way, since none of those women is above 5’ 5”.

Walters was a real-life Veronica Corningstone whose dream of being a network anchor came to fruition but was short-lived, partially because her co-anchor was a gruff, Old World newsman who displayed on-air disdain for her.

Things have also come a long way from the public outcry and sexism kerfuffle around Connie Chung’s firing from her two-year stint with Dan Rather in the mid-90s on CBS.

Moreover, Couric has earned respect for her disarming and insightful interviews with Sarah Palin that altered the course of he 2008 campaign.

An interesting aspect of this development is what it will say about gender and ratings.  Couric settled into a distant third against Williams and Gibson.  Does she garner fewer viewers because she is different?  Because she is a woman?  Will people show brand loyalty or gender loyalty?  For good or ill, we will be able to tell in January: Sawyer’s entry will serve as a sort of control group.

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