Monday, November 25, 2013

How to Change the Subject

I mostly write here about research or how surveys were done, that sort of thing, but I have to give credit to the Obama folks. Remember Benghazi? Fox News and conservatives kept talking and talking about it, but the Obama folks moved on. "But," sputtered Republicans. "Wait," they tried again.

Remember the Obamacare rollout debacle? Sure you do. It was only a week or two ago.

And boom ... we have a historic deal with Iran.

"But," sputter Republicans. "Wait," they try again.

Friggin brilliant.

I write this not as a partisan, not as criticism of the Obama Administration or to poke fun at Republicans -- both are too easy. You can argue this is the natural flow of events, that there's always something new to talk about, some new event to discuss, some not disaster to confront. I'd say it also a nice example of agenda-setting and framing the conversation to what's new. The public has a fairly short attention span. Fox News hasn't quite figured this out yet and is still going on about the health care thing, but people will move on quickly enough, except for that partisan slice that never moves on.

What's new, that tends to be news. That works to an administration's advantage if what's new turns out to not be bad, or you can successfully spin it your way.

Plus the holidays approach. News gets lost anyway.

The research on agenda setting (which I hate, by the way) and the research on partisan media suggest Fox will have very little success in keeping the health care debacle in the public mind, except of course for its core partisan audience. If the Obama folks are smart, they'll talk about Iran and only Iran, until next week when they'll talk about something else. Congress will hold hearings about health care or who knows what else, but by then the national conversation will have moved elsewhere. Again, assuming no new health care debacle.

In other words, time is on the administration's side. As is research in how public opinion ebbs and wanes on these kinds of topics.

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