Healthcare Town Hall Tanked on the Tube
By Garance Franke-Ruta
Here's one way to negate the power of the Obama brand to sell just about anything: add health care talk to the mix.
Last night's ABC News special on health care, criticized in advance by Republicans as an infomercial for the president's reform plan, "struggled for viewers," according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.
"The one-hour ABC News special 'Primetime: Questions for the President: Prescription for America' (4.7 million viewers, 1.1 preliminary adults 18-49 rating) had the fewest viewers in the 10 p.m. hour. The special tied some 8 p.m. comedy repeats as the lowest-rated program on a major broadcast network," the Reporter noted.
NBC's "Inside the Obama White House" special on June 2, in contrast, won viewers ages 18-49 during its 9 p.m. airing, garnering 9.1 million viewers over all and making NBC the ratings winner for the evening.
One possible explanation for the discrepancy comes from recent polls that show the president is more popular personally than his policies are.
The NBC special focused as much on life in the White House -- the first lady, the first dog, the lives of staffers and so on -- as any policy questions. The ABC special on the White House health care town hall, in contrast, involved more substantive but slightly dryer matters.
Ratings magnet Michelle Obama, for her part, skipped the ABC forum and, with daughters Malia and Sasha Obama, took in the Beyonce show at the Verizon Center.
Posted at 7:07 PM ET on Jun 25, 2009
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