Once a popular ‘set’ for presidents, Oval Office’s use as TV backdrop fades

The New York Times has an interesting article on how the Oval Office, a hallmark of American politics and a popular choice for presidents to use as a “set” to address the country, has seen its use as a TV backdrop dwindle in recent years.

The article notes that Ronald Reagan, the actor-turned-president, used the Oval Office for televised addresses a record 29 times over two terms — whereas Barack Obama has used it just twice for primetime addresses. His immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, used it only seven times in his two terms.

“I wouldn’t say the Oval Office address is a thing of the past,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, a presidency scholar at Towson University in Maryland. “It’s just going to be reserved for those presidents and those occasions where they feel they have to use it.”

The article brings up an interesting point to ponder — the Oval Office’s many roles — as a workspace (albeit often ceremonial), diplomatic tool, symbol of power and a setting for still photographs and video addresses during our country’s worst times as well as capturing candid moments between the president and his staff and family.

But considering the pivotal news that’s been brought to millions of Americans from this space via the power of television, perhaps the Oval Office just might qualify as the most famous “news set” in the country. Perhaps it is appropriate that its use as a “set” is becoming more selective as well…

Read the full article here.

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