US presidents appearing on late night television is a relatively new phenomenon. It was President Obama appearing on the Jay Leno Show in 2009 that broke the mold. Presidential candidates appearing on late night television however, is something that goes back to 1992. If it happened any earlier, I am not aware of it.
People still remember Bill Clinton’s now famous appearance on the Arsenio Hall show where he showed off his skills with a saxophone. With sunglasses on, Clinton and the band belted out a rendition of Elvis Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and Hall famously quipped, “It’s nice to see a Democrat blow something besides the election.” It was considered a watershed moment in politics, crossing a divide that hadn’t been seen before and helped cement a positive outlook for Clinton with younger and urban voters.
Whether you like Bill Clinton or not, the appearance was fun. And that is what appearing on late night television is all about. Therefore, when media types start whining about late night talk show hosts not asking tough questions of political candidates, I roll my eyes.
Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert are not journalists. They are comedians and entertainers. When Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump appear on one of these shows, people are tuning in not to see them discuss policy or talk politics outside of anything that is funny.
So this piece, called, ‘The Embarrassment of Jimmy Fallon’ by David Sims in The Atlantic is just silly. Sims actually complains Fallon went too easy on Trump:
Only twice did Fallon come even close to ruffling Trump’s feathers. The first occasion was when Fallon brought up Trump’s frequent praise of the Russian president Vladimir Putin (the candidate brushed it off as diplomacy). The second was when Fallon asked to mess Trump’s hair up. In fact, the host seemed to have built the entire 10-minute segment around an end goal of doing exactly that; all of the other questions were mere window dressing intended to lull him into a false sense of security. Fallon wanted to ruffle Trump’s hair, and ruffle it he did.
Here is my response to that: So what?
After a bit of clarity where Sims acknowledges Fallon is not a journalist (as John Hendrickson does immediately in an equally stupid piece in Esquire) he gets to the real point:
Comedians are, after all, personalities first and foremost: Great hosts of the late-night genre like David Letterman and Jon Stewart were joke-tellers and interviewers, who couldn’t help but bring their opinions with them no matter who they were talking to.
Not just their opinions, David. Their left wing opinions. That is what you’d really like to see.
What is it with the left and their need to inject politics into everything? And nobody is safe. Mark Ruffalo is one of the most uber left-wing beta male weenies on the planet. He took a tidal wave of criticism because he’s an executive producer of an HBO film with a transgender character….that is not played by a transgender actor. Of course, Al Pacino was not a real mobster when he played Michael Corleone in ‘The Godfather.’ That’s why they call it acting. Still, Ruffalo had to deal with the fallout. The absurdity of it all is worse when you consider the film, ‘The Normal Heart’ aired over two years ago.
There is a time and a place for politics. I wish the left would leave it out of our entertainment.