WH's Pfeiffer: Obama Speech Timed for 'Net Coverage'

A White House spokesman told CNN Thursday that the Administration was pleased to have "good, conscientious networks like CNN" — and Fox, MSNBC and others —covering the President's speech on immigration, but suggested it was not really aiming for TV coverage.

The Big Four networks are not covering the 8 p.m. speech, while the cable news nets and Hispanic-targeted networks Telemundo and Univision are carrying it live.

Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said he would have been happy with roadblock coverage for the speech, but did not expect it and didn't appear concerned by its absence, suggesting this was a whole new Internet ballgame.

"This is 2014. You have to take a different approach to communications," he said. "We picked the time and place of this address knowing it was unlikely the networks would break away from the comedies and dramas of sweeps week. This is a time when important cable networks like yours [will be covering]," Pfeiffer told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. But he suggested the time was picked because it was when they could reach the most people via the Internet. "People would most likely be watching on their laptops, their smart phones and their tablets. And that is how we think about communications. When will people gather and watch something, not just on television, but on their mobile device."

Asked if he didn't really care whether the broadcasters carried it or not, Pfeiffer did not go that far: "Every event would be better off if the networks did roadblock coverage of it. We don't expect that. We have a lot of ways to get our message out."

He pointed to the President's preview video on Facebook, which was viewed by 3.5 million people in 24 hours.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared to be on the same page. In advance of the President's speech, Boehner took to YouTube to criticize the anticipated executive order on immigration.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.