- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2009

Channeling Obama

For everyone keeping score, President Obama has made four major television appearances this week. Let’s see, there was Wednesday’s big fat news conference (the fourth in six months) and three “exclusive” interviews, with NBC’s Meredith Vieira, CBS’ Katie Couric and PBS’ Jim Lehrer.

We’re not done yet, though. ABC is offering “A Day in the Life of President Obama” next week with Terry Moran.

Wait. Didn’t NBC’s Brian Williams already do that? Yes. It was broadcast in June, but titled “A Day in the Life of the White House,” so it must have been different. NBC used 32 cameras, and Mr. Williams astonished some viewers by bowing before Mr. Obama at one point.

But is it too much?

“I love President Obama, but I want to see less of him. He’s starting to jump the shark. When he’s talking about his jeans or with Meredith Vieira, I go, ‘Enough already.’ He’s spending too much time in makeup. And for a guy who’s working all the time, he needs to be ‘working’ all the time, if you know what I mean,” Richard Laermer, a New York-based trend analyst and author of “Punk Marketing,” tells Inside the Beltway.

Some image management is in order.

“Yes, the president is overexposed, But a bigger issue is at stake: There’s a chance he’s perceived as a celebrity who is not doing the work of the people. That’s a greater problem,” says John Tantillo, a Manhattan marketing specialist and Fox News analyst.

Screen gems

Meanwhile, health care reform has confounded ABC, NBC and CBS.

In overall news coverage that aired from Inauguration Day to June 24, the networks’ mentions of the number of uninsured people in America were wrong 80 percent of the time, according to a study released Wednesday by the Business & Media Institute, a conservative press watchdog.

Out of 224 stories, 20 mentioned the actual cost of “Obamacare” - a reported $1.6 trillion. The coverage also favored proponents to critics 243 stories to 104.

“Reporters admitted the public option insurance Obama wants would be ‘similar to Medicare’ in 11 of the stories,” the study said.

President Obama’s desperate quest to seize control of one-sixth of our economy has been helped by all three broadcast networks. ABC, CBS and NBC have followed Obama’s lead on health care and barely even covered the most critical complaint - cost,” spokesman Dan Gainor says.

“Of particular note is how consistently news outlets were horribly wrong about the actual number of uninsured - 80 percent of the time. Only two programs - NBC ‘Nightly News’ and ABC ‘World News’ - never got it wrong because they never used a number for the uninsured,” he adds.

Crystal clear

Her name is Krystal Ball, and she is running for Congress in Virginia. The young Democrat - she is 27 - is challenging Rep. Rob Wittman, a Republican from Westmoreland, in 2010.

But we absolutely must know: The name. Blessing or a curse?

“Overall, I would say it’s pretty helpful. Name recognition works. The origin? My two older sisters have normal names, and when I was on the way, everyone thought I was a boy. Well, surprise. My mother didn’t know what to call me,” the candidate tells Inside the Beltway.

Enter her father, a physicist.

“His primary research is on crystals. That was his suggestion. So the whole idea of ‘Krystal Ball’ is not so esoteric after all,” she says.

Up at arms

Oh, the irony. Libertarians are vexed that an amendment granting concealed-carry reciprocity among all states failed in the Senate by 58-39, two votes short of the 60 needed to thwart a promised filibuster. Those who voted against it included 37 Democrats and two Republicans.

“I find it ironic that many of the senators who rightfully believe one state’s same-sex marriage licenses should be recognized in all states are now not willing to extend that same courtesy to concealed-carry licenses,” says Donny Ferguson, a spokesman for the Libertarian National Committee.

“Your rights of free speech, free worship and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure do not end at the state line. Neither does your right to keep and bear arms,” he adds, reminding lawmakers that American gun owners are a 90-million-member voting bloc.

OK. We’re waiting. Send news, tips and insight to jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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