Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
July 26, 2011

President Boehner (Or, Obama Losing the Pulpit)


I find it striking, clever and telling the way the Repubs worked the visuals surrounding last night’s Presidential TV statement.

On what basis, first of all — this not being a State of the Union — was Boehner afforded equal air time? (I don’t remember the Republicans getting a televised response to the bin Laden announcement or the Afghanistan troop announcement, for example.) If Obama has found himself in a trap where the Repubs now have equal TV billing as well as equal weight driving the economic agenda, however, he’s brought it upon himself by way of his pervasive pursuit of collaboration and consensus.


We know the Obama Administration is very weak on framing. (Having failed to even give his health care plan a name, it’s now generally referred to by the derogatory “Obamacare.”) We also know the Repubs live and die with framing. In this case, credit the Repubs with setting up the trappings (flag — check; chandelier — check; columns — check; dual microphones — check; Congressional podium — check;) to make Boehner look as equivalent as possible to the C.I.C.

Obama Boehner NYT budget address

And then, look at the payoff in the NYT, framing the President’s address to the nation (that pulpit typically an exclusive and vaulted asset) and the Speaker of the House, and his rebuttal, as effectively on par.

… And, then: Cheshire Cat.


(photo 1: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images caption: Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) poses for photographs after his televised address to the nation about the federal budget and debt ceiling crisis at the U.S. Capitol July 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. According to the Treasury Department, if Congress and the White House do not find a way to raise the debt ceiling, the United States is at risk of defaulting on it’s 2: Reuters caption: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in a prime-time address to the nation from the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 25, 2011, as polarized lawmakers failed to rally behind a plan to avert a disastrous debt default perhaps just one week away. Obama said on Monday a temporary six-month extension of debt ceiling does not solve the problem and might not be enough to avoid credit downgrade. photo 3: Pool photo by Jim Watson, left; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.) photo 5: AP)

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