Obama's infomercial


Does anybody else feel a bit uncomfortable with this? He’s got most of the broadcast stations, minus ABC on board for a 30 minute infomercial. McCain really can’t afford to do anything similar.

If possible, please let’s keep this nonpartisan.

How do you feel that one candidate has enough money to literally blanket the airwaves? To me, it seems to be the epitome of the influence of money on politics. Should an election be a race for more money? Is money really a good measure of support?

I don’t see the problem - he’s still got to convince people with it. Unless he’s using it to send out hypno waves. Is he sending out hypno waves?

Is money a good measure of support? I believe it is. It’s also an indicator of an organization that’s well run by intelligent people. Don’t think for a moment McCain wouldn’t love to be in a position to to do the same thing.

I’m okay with it. Obama has the money and can spend it to promote himself any way he wants, within reason of course. My concern is I’m not convinced doing something like this helps, and has a high potential downside.

If, for the whole 30 minutes, he’s sitting behind a desk talking about what he’ll do and how accessible he is, it’ll hurt him, because it’ll come off presumptuous. Anyway, No one wants to sit and watch that for 30 minutes.

For reference, there is a thread in the Cafe
Primetime Obama

The vast majority of Obama’s money comes from small donors–under $200. Which means he received literally millions of dollars from regular citizens/supporters. If he received all his money from corporate interests–like, say, GE, and then he gave that money back to NBC/GE, I would be alarmed at the incestuous nature of it all. But I can’t really think of one good reason why Obama shouldn’t buy air time with his campaign funds. McCain could, too, if he had wanted to.

The various stations clearly see this as a ratings boon. A FOX exec told Politico that they decided to take the deal on Obama’s special rather than show the World Series pre-game–why would they do this? Because they think that it’s going to attract more viewers than the pre-game. It’s a win-win!

According to another story (read on my iPhone so sorry…no link) the ad is “expected to be a video montage of typical people talking about the challenges they face, with Obama explaining how he can help. A campaign adviser said the taped ad will feature a live cut-in to Obama, who is scheduled to be at a rally in Florida at the time.”

I agree I think this is risky. I cannot see how it will help much and has a potential downside. It looks rather presumptuous to me too and I doubt people will be happy when American Idol is co-opted for Obama to speak.

Obama is in the lead (by pretty much all accounts I see). I think it is best if he just maintains these last few days rather than trying something untested such as this.

I see a little more downside than upside, but I don’t see it making a big difference either way. I don’t see any way it hurts him with ‘the faithful’ and I don’t think it will turn off the previously-apathetic voters who are tilting toward Obama. Some independents may be irritated that he’s interfering with TV or think it’s presumptuous - I posted once, a while back, about McCain doing well with the “grump vote” - but that’s probably a McCain-leaning group. Maybe he’ll lose some of them, but it could also counter the whole “Who is Barack Obama” thing. He’s the guy on your TV for half an hour, trying to reach out to people. It’s not something that is going to turn off four percent of national voters and swing Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida the other way.

I don’t see anything wrong with the infomercial itself. It’s an example of his campaign being creative in terms of using their money to push their message. I am wondering how it will be executed. I don’t imagine it will be a half-hour speech; most people would just switch to some other channel. Apparently they have hired one of the most talented ad-makers for this commercial so I expect it will be quite innovative. If they do it right it could set the agenda for the rest of the campaign and seal the deal as far as Obama is concerned. At the least it should help Obama with a news cycle or two. I don’t see much downside to it ; people who don’t like it will just watch something else.

I am not at all uncomfortable with the amount of money Obama has gathered, mostly because he has gathered it from so many, in small amounts, and largely directly, and what has come from bundlers has been disclosed to an even greater degree than strictly required by law. I would be troubled had his money come largely from only a few sources. It didn’t. The average donation is still under $100 and lower than his opponent’s average donation.

Why shouldn’t he use that money to be as visible to as many as he can? Why shouldn’t he make the appeal to those who don’t have cable or satelite and only have access to one or two broadcast channels? Everyone has the option of not watching. What could be sinister about this? Is he going to hypnotize all who watch? Use it as a call to arms?

Well, I wouldn’t hold up the US system of media buys and political fund-raising as the best exemplar, but he’s competing fairly within the rules for non-federal money here.

Indeed, I argue he’s doing much better than that because most of his fund-raising has come without PACs and lobbyists. Such smaller, mainly online-based recurrent dontions have far less possibility of inviting corruption than large, non-recurrent donations where you invite stakeholders to buy off your administration.

Lots of $200 donations from ordinary citizens are basically politically neutral. I’m a member of SomethingAwful Forums, for example, and I know that collectively SA has given over 300k in support of the Obama campaign.

I don’t quite understand why he’s doing it. He must have saved up one of his own speeches that he’s proudest of for the occasion. It does seem extravagant, but I guess he really wants to address the American people as directly as possible. I hope this is a sign of how transparent and open his presidency will be, especially in contrast to the current occupant of that office.

I tell can you this: if Matt Lesko appears in any context, I’m voting for McCain.

I don’t know what this means. Are you using American Idol as a generic placeholder for broadcast tv shows? Do you mean they’ll think he’ll co-opt American Idol in the future as POTUS?

It doesn’t bother me. Equal time laws require the networks to make the same sort of time slot available to McCain for the same cost. If McCain doesn’t have enough campaign cash to take them up on the offer, that’s not really Obama’s fault nor should Obama decline to run the program just because McCain can’t afford the same. When this was first reported a couple weeks ago, I fully expected McCain to respond with at least a single network. I guess they couldn’t afford it or thought it wasn’t worth it.

Obama took a chance on opting out of federal campaign funding and, in fact, in early September you had people crowing that McCain’s August haul (shifted to state parties) plus the RNC bankroll plus the $84mil in federal dollars would more than match Obama’s fundraising and allow McCain to focus exclusively on campaigning rather than fundraising. By October, it turned out that Obama’s gambit paid off and I have no worries about him using that extra money on whatever means to get his message out. That was the whole point of him taking the gamble on opting out.

It seems like the last guy who tried something like this was Ross Perot - who also had ears like Alfred E. Newman. Coincidence?

In theory, it seems like a bad idea: reinforcing messianic and demagogic stereotypes, providing more potential raw footage for Repbulican attack ads, annoying baseball fans… but in practice, people have been playing armchair campaign manager for Obama for about two years now, and it seems like the campaign has been proven right almost every time.

The ratings during Obama’s show are irrelevant.

TV networks show programs to attract an audience, and they sell time to reach that audience to advertisers (their true customers). The bigger the audience, the more money they can charge to show each commercial. But I’m pretty sure there won’t be any commercials during Obama’s time. They can’t sell 30- or 60-second blocks to advertisers because they’ve already sold the whole 30 minutes to Obama.

But ratings are funny things. Maybe they figure the lingering audience from Obama will improve the ratings of the World Series, the ratings of which are probably of great interest to them.

I have no issue with it. I probably won’t watch, though my husband almost certainly will so I’ll be exposed to it anyway. I don’t think it’s risky at all.

i see it as one 30 minute ad, instead of 30 one minute ads.

i did hear (as mentioned above) that it would be video and live.

he seems to use technology very well, and seems tech savvy as well. this is very refreshing in a political race.

Note also that he had to make the buy a long time ago, when it wasn’t clear what the polls were going to say today. So maybe if he’d had a crystal ball, he wouldn’t have decided on this particular expense. But it’s not presumptuous – he has a message, and this is a good way to get it out. He’s not demanding time for free, he’s paying for it. So is the Shamwow guy presumptuous too?