Fox opts out of Obama speech


Members of the Senate, the House, ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC, MSNBC and NBC, and radio, print and online journalists will all be in attendance when President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress tonight. But Fox Television Network will be dancing.

This will be the third time in a row for Fox, which skipped earlier presidential prime time outings in April and July.

Instead, it will run an episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” at 8:00 PM Eastern, the time the joint session starts, and segue into the heavily-promoted premiere of scripted “Glee.”

According to Media Life magazine, Fox claimed it lost $6M when it preempted an episode of “American Idol” for Obama. In April, it stuck with an episode of “Lie to Me” and in July it stuck with another episode of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Each time it has won the time slot. Thus far it is the only network to bail on Obama.

The network said it will refer viewers who may want to watch the joint session to Fox News Channel.

The Republicans in Congress have a doctor in the House, and he has been tapped to give the Party’s response to the President’s address. Charles Boustany (R-LA), a cardiovascular surgeon elected to Congress in 2004, will do the honors.

RBR/TVBR observation: We know that the networks are not interested in losing money, particularly in this economy, but three of them are paying the price to keep their journalistic reputations polished. The viewers who skip the joint session to watch Fox won’t care. Will the other three big broadcast networks be able to figure out some way to at least tarnish Fox’s reputation?

Even if they do, will it matter? Will they eventually follow Fox’s lead? If they have an inkling they might, they’ll look pretty foolish if they first criticized Fox.

A lot of it will have to do with how much more pressure Obama puts on prime time. If he keeps going at his pace thus far – a prime time event every month and a half – we may start to see some interesting action on the network public relations front.