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SNL or the Red Phone Ad: Which TV Display Turned the Tide for Hillary?



Clintonobamadnl I hope that legions of voters in Ohio and Texas caught the last two SNL skits featuring a Clinton-loving media and decided to teach us a lesson.

Because the alternative scenario -- that Clinton's fear mongering and negativity helped her pull out another close win in big states -- does not bode well for the rest of this primary season, or the general election.

Obama seems to have counted on a flood of generally positive coverage in days leading to important elections to help him reach voters. This time, it worked in reverse: big-time journalists, particularly stung by satires on Saturday Night Live needling them for saying too many nice things about Obama, decided to get tough.

But I was struck by the example cited by Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz in his piece on an exchange with ABC News reporter Jake Tapper which could "mark the end of a long period in which the media has gone easy" on Obama: "Tapper's litany: "That you didn't put your hand over your heart during the national anthem, that you no longer wear an American flag on your lapel pin, that you met with some former members of the Weather Underground, and now they are questioning your wife's comments when she said she hasn't been proud of the U.S. until just recently."

So, regurgitating old controversies about wearing flag pins and where his hand sits during the national anthem is big media getting tough on Obama?

Clintonobama What I saw that was more substantive, was an interesting piece on Obama's ties to indicted political player Tony Rezko on CBS News, Chicago reporters demanding more access to the candidate for their own Rezko stories, and some hard looks at his legislative record. But none of this work really unearthed serious questions about his abilities or background, which leads me to a niggling question:

Amid all this talk about the media going easy on Obama, what kind of coverage do people want? Is it harping on issues which aren't really substantive? Is it talk about flag pins and ceremonial dress? The Proejct for Excellence in Journalism documented the increase in incisive coverage about Obama here.

Above all, I hope Democratic voters didn't let the negativity and fear mongering of recent days push them into voting decisions (Clinton's "red phone" ad was textbook scare tactics aimed right at soccer moms concerned about national security).

Because we saw during the last presidential election how well a choice made in fear actually turns out. Here's the red phone ad, in case you missed it:  

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:44pm]


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