Bigger than Barack: Boyle forces President to move speech

TV network prioritised reality show over White House news conference

Whatever happens next to Scotland's ballad-belting Susan Boyle, at least she can say this about herself: when it came to a television scheduling showdown against the most popular leader of the free world in recent memory, she won fair and square. No second-place fade-outs for the Britain's Got Talent sensation this time.

The unlikely collision of spinster-songstress and commander-in-chief came about when the White House determined it was time for Barack Obama to hold his fourth prime-time news conference since coming to office. His healthcare reform push is looking a bit peaky and a direct appeal to the people was warranted.

Normally, the four broadcast networks in America bow to such requests without much fuss, particularly in the summer months when their schedules are all re-runs and reality shows. But not this time. Fox, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, instantly refused to air the conference. Of course, it did that last time too. But signs that relations between the broadcasters and the Obama administration are fraying further became more obvious when NBC also balked.

Startled by the resistance, which comes at a time when Mr Obama's own ratings are starting to slide, the White House blinked and agreed to shift the conference one hour forward to 8pm, even though it meant the President would be going on air when Californian voters were still commuting home.

The problem for NBC was that the 9pm was the one it had saved for America's Got Talent, which follows the same format as its British equivalent. And more importantly, this episode was to feature an exclusive interview with Boyle. She was the network's secret weapon to compete with the reality shows on the competing channels, including the likes of So You Think You Can Dance and I Survived a Japanese Game Show.

No one at the White House has any intention of admitting that Mr Obama saw Boyle in his headlights and swerved. "In speaking with various media outlets, we found that rescheduling for one hour earlier would help us to arrange for as many Americans as possible to hear directly from the President at the press conference," one official said, and that was the closest anyone got to blaming the new singing star for the time change.

Boyle may be a top property for NBC this summer, if only because of all the speculation about her state of mind in the wake of her second-place disappointment in the final of Britain's Got Talent. She vanished from the airwaves and cancelled several commitments that had been made when she appeared to be on track to win.

Small segments of the interview already aired on the NBC's breakfast show reveal a mildly made-over Boyle, with a hair-do that appears considerably less unruly than its predecessor. She admits to the interviewer that she "brushes up quite well".

She also expounds on the shock to the system that her sudden fame this spring had brought. "It's a lot like a giant demolition ball," Boyle, 48, reflects. "The impact – like a demolition ball. And anyone who has that kind of impact finds it really hard to get a head around it.

"I've got to be honest here. I guess I had to get my head around it, but through the guidance of a great team – and they are very good – I was able to see that in perspective and really turn that around a little."

For the rest of what she says, America must wait until this evening. But evidently the suits at NBC are gambling that it will be more interesting than what Mr Obama has to say about doctors, hospitals and the medical insurance industry. It may be time for a new presidential hairstyle.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Media & Advertising Sales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national business publishi...

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones