U.S. President Barack Obama speaks with host Jimmy Fallon during an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at Memorial Hall on the UNC campus on April 24, 2012 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Obama made an earlier appearance on the campus as part of a effort to get Congress to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling in July.
President Obama is wrapping up a week of trying to reach out to a younger audience. Last night on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” the president slow jammed the news with Fallon and The Roots, the show’s house band. Obama's appearance was part of his week-long messaging effort to press Congress to extend lower interest rates for some student loan programs. On Friday he’ll be featured in Rolling Stone magazine as “The Rolling Stone Interview.”
Presidents have a history of being guests on late night shows, but not necessarily sitting presidents. Bill Clinton famously played sax on “The Arsenio Hall Show” in 1992, but that was while he was still a candidate. Both President Obama and President George W. Bush have made many appearances on talk shows and entertainment shows while in office.
In the new millennium, do presidents spend too much time trying to charm the public on TV, when they should be focusing more on governing? How much do talk show appearances help or hurt a president’s reputation?
Robert Thompson, Trustee professor of Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, where he is also the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture
Eric Bates, Executive Editor, Rolling Stone