Rule #1 of Direct Democracy: Don’t Hassle the Hoff

Barack Obama, having apparently decided that all the glowing press reports about The Imminence of His Victory and everything won’t be quite enough to put him over the edge with voters, is using a portion of his campaign’s I-don’t-need-your-stupid-public-financing fund to buy up thirty-minute chunks of network airtime on the evening of October 29, exactly a week before election day. And he will be using those segments to sell his message directly to the American people.

Which means, among other things: Campaign 2008 now officially involves infomercials. That’s right! Answer the call in the next seven days, and we’ll send you your very own package of Change! All for the low, low price of one vote! Act quickly, and we’ll include a message of Hope, at no extra cost! Pay only shipping and handling!


But wait! There’s more!

Looks like the airtime the Obama campaign is purchasing—on CBS and NBC, in the prime 8 p.m. slot—will preempt episodes of the quality programming normally enjoyed by network audiences. In this case, alas, The New Adventures of Old Christine on CBS…and, perhaps even worse, on NBC, the new Knight Rider, the much-anticipated-(but-only-ironically) update of David Hasselhoff’s pre-Baywatch fame-maker.

Now, Hassling the Hoff, as a general rule, is not a good idea. Particularly for Obama, who in preempting Hasselhoff, risks alienating his core demographic*. Still, we like the idea of a canidate’s Talking Directly to the People. It’s bit of a snub to the press, sure, but after LipstickOnAPigGate and the like, the Chroniclers of Campaign 2008 really can’t be too shocked at the move. (Don’t worry, Chris Matthews, you’ll have plenty of time to analyze Obama’s message and determine his Presidential Appearance Rating and everything after he’s done talking…)


Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.