Monday, October 16, 2006

From Onscreen to in Office

Can a journalist and TV personality become President? Well, these days it seems so.

From newspapers to talk radio to TV, rumor has it that Oprah Winfrey and John Stewart are running for President. Although they’ve denied these reports, why are people so fascinated with the prospect of having a journalist for President? Could celebrity status soon lead to political victory?

Hollywood says yes.

In the newly released comedy “Man of the Year,” Robin Williams plays the host of a late-night political talk show who runs for and wins the presidency of the U.S.

And it seems as though the fiction played out on the big screen would be a dream to many.

Documentary-maker Michael Moore has set up a petition to persuading Oprah to run. And a Missouri man has recently opened a store that sells "Oprah for President" merchandise.

Similarly, according to the October 13th edition of RedEye, “Hipsters on the streets of New York are wearing Stewart/Colbert ’08 T-Shirts, promoting a Dream Team presidential ticket.”

Growing governmental distrust has led many people like the Manhattan “hipsters” to listen to political commentators/comedians for relief. John Stewart has had a positive effect on many.

So much that maybe it couldn’t hurt to have a journalist run for the big seat. In fact, the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey reported that “Daily Show” viewers answered more political questions correctly than non-viewers of late-night comedy shows. Likewise, a study released by Indiana University last week determined that in 2004 “The Daily Show” tied with network evening news programs in terms of time devoted to “substantive political news.”

Maybe if Stewart and other journalists cast their names on the ballot for President, more educated voters would turn to the polls.

Maybe then people would have more confidence in the person in office. Or maybe their votes would only lead to more jokes.

To view the “Oprah for President” website and listen to “If Oprah Was President” (Official Theme Song) click here.

To sign the "John Stewart for President Petition" click here.



At Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

There was a little guy in my high school who ran for class secretary one year. His speech wasn't enlightening (rather goofy and entertaining - no substance whatsoever), but the other kids thought it would be funnier to vote for him than his opponent who was taking the post more seriously.

Maybe a form of this sentiment exists in "real life?"

In California, we like to elect entertainment celebrities.

Maybe because we just know them more and we actually LIKE them?

Maybe it doesn't matter as much if they are equipped to do the governing as whether we simply like them or not?

In a similar way, maybe most people don't actually view Oprah or Jon Stewart as traditional "journalists." Maybe they fit more in the "celebrity" column...


At Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I'm not sure how likely it is that someone like Jon Stewart or Oprah would be elected (if for no other reason than that they have both said that they don't have any plans to run for office), but I can absolutely see why we like to toy with the idea.

We throw these ideas out because deep down, we do want to have a government run by people we trust and respect. For many people, Oprah represents the sort of generous, altruistic personality that we like to imagine in office. And Jon Stewart represents the intelligence and candor that our elected officials should have and often don't.

That's the test that I would have to give any "celebrity" who decided to run for office. I'd certainly be cautious, but it they proved that they had the drive and the skills necessary to govern, than why not?

Somewhere along the line, it seemed to be decided that it was money, not intelligence or compassion, that made someone fit for office. I'm all for shaking up that trend.


At Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

First, I have to say that Oprah and Jon Stewart aren't journalists. Maybe they were once, but what they're doing now doesn't qualify as journalism, at least not in the traditional sense.

That said, I'm amused but worried that people are trying to get Oprah or Jon Stewart in the White House. To me, it's kind of like the "Obama for President" talk. Don't get me wrong, I love Obama, but he hasn't done enough as a Senator to show he should be president.

People get so excited they forget to check the credentials...and that's where the media come in. If we don't back away from all the fan adoration and question the candidate, then we'll end up with a very articulate and funny president who can't lead the country.


At Sunday, October 22, 2006, Anonymous LO said...

Lest we forget that Ronald Reagan was an actor before he became a politician...


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