Saturday, November 1, 2008

October Surprise Ball Booted

The October surprise ball was booted, unless a report that a distant Kenyan relative of Senator Obama is living in Boston “illegally” is the perfect mole hill upon which a political mountain may be built. A Senator McCain spokesman, Tucker Bounds, said his campaign had no comment. That is a shame since it is the perfect fodder upon which the Alaskan running mate likes to graze, but I digress. The real problem with the story is that it has limited television appeal, compared with the presidential debates which were all about television appeal.

The RNC has shown little interest in vetting anyone or anything. However, it sure thinks it knows the importance of television appeal. That is why the RNC booted the “hockey mom” ball with its concern about the Palin makeover. Television appeal is how the RNC booted the “Joe the Plumber” ball when they gave a real person a television name (I’m Joe Plumber, RNC News.) They would have been better off hiring an actor.

Television appeal is how the RNC booted the “Presidential debate” ball. Perhaps it would have better for their standard bearer had the debates been broadcast in black and white – McCain would have come across like Ike and Obama a skinny college kid. Following along that line, it would have better had the debates been broadcast on radio – the skinny kid would have come across like a crooner and Ike would still be Ike.

Twenty years ago ABC News claimed, “More people get their news from ABC than from any other source.” Although a frightening concept at the time, the network can no longer make such a claim. CNN put the debate solidly in the television appeal category, as opposed to a content substance category, with its goofy, color coded crawling graphic. In so doing CNN reduced the candidates to being the red guy and the blue guy with an imaginary green guy in between the two.
Television reduced the debates to an extended, three part infomercial, a ball booted by the vice presidential debate. There is more that television does than suck the substance out of things, it allows for the substance to reappear on the web, such as . It also pays Tina Fey and Will Ferrell.

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Thanks to Dick Cavett in his NY Times column Talk Show for the link referenced above.

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