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In Homestretch, Obama Uses Inverted Media Strategy

For the homestretch of the presidential race, the Obama campaign has launched an inverted TV strategy — focusing on national disintermediation and local engagement.

To maximize TV coverage in key states, Sen. Barack Obama’s aides offer local anchors interviews with Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden. So instead of rebutting the latest Republican charge on the national news, we see Obama parrying attacks in a local interview. Biden could have a civilized debate with Bob Schieffer, to be sure, but instead he subjected himself to that Flordia anchor’s odd grilling about Marxism.

Meanwhile, when the campaign wants to reach a national audience, it simply bypasses anchors altogether, purchasing time for Wednesday night’s network address.

It is a new, inverted media pyramid: local TV people suddenly make national news, and national TV people are irrelevant, at least momentarily.

ABC’s traveling correspondent with the Obama campaign, Jake Tapper, complains that the Illinois senator granted a fluffy interview with Mario Lopez of “Extra,” but Obama won’t take questions from traveling national reporters. Obama has not “held a full press conference — submitting himself to more than a handful of questions from his whole [traveling national] press corps — in more than a month,” writes Tapper.

Now I grew up watching Lopez on “Saved by the Bell,” and I think he’s tops. But Lopez is not a journalist, and as Tapper says, his interview with Obama does not count for anything beyond entertainment.

That does not mean, however, that there are no news interviews going down. Biden’s infamous Florida fracas, in fact, was with an ABC anchor.

UPDATE: This post quotes Tapper’s assertion that the Obama campaign has not held a press conference for traveling reporters in over a month. Actually, last week Obama took several questions from traveling reporters after a national security meeting, (which I mentioned at the time). There may be competing definitions of “press conference” out there, but I think taking open questions from several traveling reporters counts. So it has been a week, not a month, since the last one.

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