Barack Obama Between Two Ferns Is The Soft Media Strategy At Work

 

President Barack Obama became the first US President to appear on Between Two Ferns, Zach Galifianakis’ tongue-in-cheek interview show for online comedy enterprise Funny Or Die. And, not surprisingly, the President is facing criticism of the move because it’s demeaning to the position of President.

Which I think is a little silly. Presidents have done things that are far more demeaning to their office than doing an interview with a comedian specializing in dick and fart jokes. Besides, this is a brilliant media strategy for Obama (consider that FunnyOrDie.com is now the top referrer to HealthCare.gov).

Criticism over Obama choosing “soft media” (interviews with comedians, late night hosts, sports reporters, etc.) over traditional political media is not new. And it’s absolutely true that, by favoring Jimmy Kimmel, Zach Galifianakis and Bob Costas over, say, Jake Tapper, Obama faces far fewer tough questions. But let’s face it. These comedians and sports reporters have much, much larger audiences than the political media does.

Like it or not, your average American cares more about sports and fart jokes than they do about boring public policy. We are a nation generations removed from anything that might fairly be described as national strife. We are fat, and we are happy, and for the most part we’re tuned out on politics. So if a political leader wants to reach us, wants to get our attention on some issue, the best vehicle for that is pre-Super Bowl interviews, late night television and online comedy shows.

Whether or not that reality is a healthy situation for America is a separate debate (I, for one, am terrified by the fact that my generation gets its “news” from The Daily Show). It is reality, and perhaps conservatives should stop complaining about it and learn to engage the same way.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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