What a fun story this is. President Barack Obama, asking all the big TV networks in America to abandon their regular, business-as-usual primetime schedules for the fourth time in his first 100 days in office, has been turned down by the Fox network. Fox says it’s going to be running its normal nightly primetime schedule rather than covering Obama’s speech as it has three times already since Obama took office. And I agree!

First, only 17.7 percent of the population have no access to 24-hr news channels. That means over four-fifths of the population, even if NONE of the major TV networks chose to carry the speech, would be able to choose to watch it on their personal flavor of dedicated news channel. Less than a fifth of the population would need to rely on the internet, the 10 o’clock news, the papers, the radio or word of mouth to get Obama’s message.

Second, is this specific message really that important? I know we live in dicey times, but Obama has interrupted primetime on three separate occasions already, and I’m not sure I know anybody who actually watched them. Moreover, I’m willing to bet that anybody who did couldn’t tell me what he said on those three separate occasions, how it affected their lives or how it helped their economic situation.

Third, Obama’s message is about stimulus; improving the economy. It’s difficult to see how you improve the economy of the entertainment industry by constantly barging in over its product, rendering it incapable of selling it while you’re rambling.

Fourth, for those who think Fox is arrogant by ignoring the President’s request, don’t you think the company volunteering to broadcast it on the Fox News Channel, Fox Radio and Fox Business Network is enough? Perhaps they should create a Fox Obama Channel: all Obama, all the time, just for you? But of course you wouldn’t watch it anyway; it’s biased.

And in response to this (Joe Flint, LA Times):

There is a school of thought — or used to be anyway — that says since Fox Broadcasting has government licenses to operate its television stations, it should not be so stingy when the nation’s leader wants a little time to speak…

This “school of thought” relies on the premise that the government is doing Fox some kind of favor by ‘granting it permission’ to broadcast in the first place, and that Fox could occasionally show its gratitude. Well. First, the proper role of the government is to get out of the way, and merely to facilitate how best to help make such business happen when it is called upon to do so. There are enough infringements on broadcasters as it is without more ‘unwritten’ false obligations being thrust upon them. Second, they pay a hell of a lot of money to broadcast where they do. Fox won the licenses fairly and squarely as part of this process. Third, in the current age of multimedia technology, to pretend as though it will always be important to be one of the four ‘big networks’ and that it should be some kind of privilege to be in that position couldn’t be more ignorant of reality.

It isn’t that the regular primetime shows on Fox will carry more important information than what Obama will be discussing. But doing the business of doing business is more important than listening to the President talk about doing business. In other words, action is more important than words. And that includes selling airtime and entertaining the American people when they need a rest from all the bullshit.

At least 10 other national TV outlets will be broadcasting Obama’s latest and greatest press conference, and that’s on the medium of TV alone. Surely Fox offering an entertaining alternative can’t be such a bad thing?

Saw this on Twitter just now:

Fox not airing Obama’s address? Angry? No worries, in the progressive utopia there will be only one channel, all government all the time.

And that is, I fear, the point of all this uproar. Obama just wants people to hear what he has to say. But those who insist on his being seen and heard on twenty national broadcasters at the same time isn’t about guaranteeing coverage; if he was only on ONE network it would accomplish that. This is about the desire to control what people are watching. If they have a choice, maybe they’d rather crack open a beer and watch THAT at the end of their busy workday rather than watch another press conference? So, don’t give them a choice.

Fox doesn’t owe Obama airtime. He’s got plenty enough of that already. And maybe if the American public weren’t forced to watch press conferences about the state of the economy, they’d go back to stimulating that economy all on their own.