Poetic, practical but presumptuous - verdict on Obama's 'infomercial’

6.4 million viewers watch Democrat frontrunner's unprecedented broadcast

Leonard Doyle
Friday 31 October 2008 01:00
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Barack Obama's 30-minute campaign commercial broadcast on Wednesday night carpet-bombed millions of Americans in the hope of persuading the last remaining undecided voters to back America's first black presidential nominee.

The ratings of what The New York Times called "a closing argument to the Everyman" revealed that the Obama special was seen by 26.4 million viewers across three of the seven networks that aired it – CBS, NBC and Fox. Filmed by the award-winning documentary maker Davis Guggenheim, who made Al Gore's global warming extravaganza An Inconvenient Truth, the infomercial reached 21.7 per cent of households. That compares to 38.3 per cent of households that watched Obama's final debate against John McCain.

Images of growing wheat, suburban lawns and a freight train flashed up before the camera panned to Mr Obama sat at a table with a group of white working-class voters. "We've seen over the last eight years how decisions by a president can have a profound effect on the course of history and on American lives; much that's wrong with our country goes back even farther than that," the Illinois Senator said.

There were vignettes of everyday life for families Mr Obama had encountered on the stump. Other more controversial shots showed him in a mock-up of the Oval Office, leaving him open to the charge of hubris.

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