Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Sunday, September 22, 2002

the american candidate

Political 'Reality': Viewers to Pick 2004 Candidate: Rupert Murdoch has finally found a way to get what he wants in Washington. His cable network FX announced yesterday it has bought a TV series in which it gets to select a candidate for the 2004 presidential election. "American Candidate" will allow TV viewers to choose their "people's candidate" over a six-month period, the network said. The show was conceived by R.J. Cutler. He's the guy who produced the 1993 Oscar-nominated documentary "The War Room," about the '92 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton.      "Finally! Reality television is returning to its natural home," Cutler told the TV Column yesterday. "Presidential politics is the Great Reality Television Platform." ----- By Lisa de Moraes, Washington Post, Saturday, September 21, 2002; Page C01

Um ... no, presidential politics is the Great Political Platform. Television is, or should be, an incidental latecomer to the scene.

Really, this is distressing on so many levels, I'm not quite sure where to begin. It trivializes the idea of being president. Granted that becoming president is essentially a popularity contest, it's usually not quite this crass a contest. And it actually stands a strong chance of producing candidates, such as they are, even less qualified for the office than the current officeholder, which is saying quite something.

However this comes about, it's highly unlikely that any serious candidate for president would choose this path. For one thing, most of the serious candidates probably aren't telegenic enough for News Corp and FX. They're not young enough, and they probably can't be induced to run around wearing relatively little clothing. And, to be entirely cynical about it, not enough homes receive FX to make it worth their while to debase themselves in this manner.

The fun part is that News Corp will not actually run a campaign for this person. If they win this particular contest, it's up to them to form the connections and do the legwork and get the donations to finance an actual campaign. (Running as a member of the NewsCorporeal party, one assumes.) On the other hand, the American Candidate may decide not to run. Which would be the sensible decision, if nothing else, but would sort of leave you wondering why on earth FX bothered.

The one good thing about the show, I suppose, is that it can only be done once every four years. Unless they decide to run it every year, and then in the fourth year, have the public pick the best of the three candidates.

I wouldn't put anything past a company that would choose to do this, frankly.

Posted by iain at 12:06 AM in category



i think its a great opportunity to hear real politial debate with substantive comments on real issues by folks unconstrained by the pocketbooks of their supporters. I predict you will hear more interesting and innovative ideas than you will from the groomed dogshow candidates of the 2 major parties. Who's afraid to listen to folks talk about what they would do if they were in charge. This beats the hell out of faux village meetings with softball questions.

Posted by ken long at September 24, 2002 10:57 AM

This show will follow great behind who wants a rich husband and who thought this guy the slept with was really rich. I have a better idea, who wants to be the next CEO of FX.

Posted by Nadio at January 14, 2003 11:11 AM

Post a comment

Email Address: