Why Would Obama Appear On Leno?
So why would a sitting president appear on a comedy show as President Obama did last night when he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno? Why not just do a bunch of formal news interviews?
This is easy.
- Five million a people a night typically watch The Tonight Show
- A very different audience watches The Tonight Show than watches the evening news.
- He had 30-plus minutes all to himself.
- He sounded relaxed and confident.
- He got outside the White House press corps.
- Much like his attendance at a Washington Wizards - Chicago Bulls game several weeks ago, he looked and sounded like he's not holed up inside the White House.
- Leno is not a tough interviewer.
- The Republicans so far haven't shown that they have anyone who can compete with Obama in this type of setting.
- This is the type of appearance that creates a good deal of good will and warm feelings.
In case you're wondering, Obama is not the first president to appear on The Tonight Show. Back when it was hosted by Jack Paar, another charismatic president --Jack Kennedy -- appeared on the show.
Presidential candidates have increasingly made appearances on comedy and variety shows in recent years. Given its importance to 18-24 year olds, a stop at the Daily Show is now considered a must part of campaigning for president.
But it's hardly something new. I remember candidate Richard Nixon appearing on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in in 1968 to show that he had a lighter side. At the time, it was considered gutsy, especially because Laugh-In's audience was not likely Nixon voters. Now of course, appearing with Leno, Stewart, Stephen Colbert, etc. is commonplace.