President Takes on Sunday Morning Media Blitz

President takes unprecedented strategy in push for health care reform.

September 20, 2009, 5:32 PM

Sept. 20, 2009— -- President Obama appeared on five morning talk shows today on five different networks -- a move unprecedented for an American president.

Speaking on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Univision, the president spoke on everything from Afghanistan to race, but his main purpose was to continue his campaign-style push convincing Americans why health care reform is necessary this year.

"What I've been trying to say throughout this campaign -- this effort to get health care done -- is that, if we don't do anything, guaranteed, Americans' costs are going to go up, more people are going to lose health care coverage, the insurance companies are going to continue to prevent people from getting it for pre-existing conditions. Those are all burdens on people who have health insurance right now," the president said on ABC's "This Week".

Mr. Obama used the opportunity to appeal directly to middle-class Americans on health care, explaining why reform would be beneficial to them.

"I have to have a plan that is good for middle-class families who we know, last year, ended up seeing a five-and-a-half percent increase in their premiums, even though inflation was actually negative on everything else, that have seen a doubling of their premiums over the last decade, that are less secure than ever in terms of the insurance they can actually count on," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Some analysts say the president inundating the airwaves is a risky strategy.

President Obama's Media Blitz Strategy Has Risks

"Conventional wisdom will tell you that if you're doing five shows as the POTUS [president of the United States] you're doing four too many," said political analyst David Gergen to ABC.

"No president ever wants to become video wallpaper," said Larry Sabato, director of Center for Politics. "People do tune you out because they simply assume you don't have anything new to say."

President Obama is about even with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton on the number of press conferences he's given. However, on interviews, both Bush and Clinton gave around 40 by this point in the presidencies, but Mr. Obama has done about three times as many -- 124 interviews so far.

The one network the president didn't appear on today was Fox News, the only network not to carry live the president's speech to the joint session of Congress on health care Sept. 9.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told ABC News, "We figured Fox would rather show 'So You Think You Can Dance,' the program Fox aired instead of the president's speech to Congress.

"They are the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington," said Chris Wallace, anchor of "Fox News Sunday," about White House staff.

Instead of "Fox News Sunday," the president appeared on Univision's morning talk show "Al Punto, con Jorge Ramos."

This Monday, President Obama is making another unprecedented move -- appearing on CBS' "Late Night With David Letterman."

"The president is seeking opportunities to speak to a diverse audience about the importance of comprehensive health insurance reform," Earnest said. "The more that people learn about what he actually supports, the more people support the plan.

"He is a natural talent," veteran democratic communications strategist Chris Lehane said. "People do connect with him."

But while President Obama may be a talented speaker, he himself admitted health care reform has been a daunting task.

"This has been a sufficiently tough, complicated issue with so many moving parts," he said on ABC. "And that's been a case where I have been humbled, and I just keep on trying harder, because I -- I really think it's the right thing to do for the country."

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