Actually, this could have been more of a surprise, given how much the outgoing host of the Tonight Show has used Barack Obama and Democrats as the target of his jokes lately (and he’s not alone in that direction, either). However, Leno still holds a commanding lead in late-night television, which of course prompts the question of why NBC is pushing him out again, this time in favor of Jimmy Fallon. Anyway, I digress from the main point, which is that the economic talk that flopped as a serious policy campaign will come to televisions tonight as entertainment:
Obama is scheduled to tape with Leno on Tuesday afternoon for the 11:30 p.m. show. Obama is making his sixth appearance on the show, third as president.
Obama has been on a national tour promoting a new “grand bargain” on the economy that would cut corporate tax rates while also closing loopholes. Under the plan, new revenue would then allow more money for public infrastructure projects to create middle-class jobs.
Even the traditional media is taking this as a joke. The LA Times includes those two paragraphs explaining Obama’s agenda at the bottom of a traffic article explaining all of the road closures his appearance will generate. The USA Today story at the first link doesn’t mention his agenda or the economy at all, instead focusing on the history and strategy of engaging the late-night hosts in general.
Count John Boehner among the unimpressed (via Twitchy):
“President Barack Obama, the joke’s on you,” reported the Associated Press Monday. While the president had a “chuckle” last week about jobs hanging in the balance, increasingly, it’s he and his failed economic agenda that have attracted ridicule – and late night laughs. We’re all for jokes, but with a “new normal” of stagnant wages, rising costs, and persistently high joblessness, there’s little funny about the president’s handling of the economy. Still, that doesn’t seem to be a concern for the president, as he has adopted an if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em approach and will travel to Los Angeles Tuesday to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Yes, as part of his latest pivot to the economy, the president believes Leno is the perfect setting to discuss his ideas for jobs. It makes sense, really.
Don’t be too quick to laugh, though. Obama received a tremendous amount of criticism for eschewing serious media outlets during the 2012 campaign for appearances on frothy shows like Entertainment Tonight and glossy celeb magazines like People. That turned out to be a good strategy for engaging low-information voters, thanks to softball interviewers and mass-publication outreach. This is a repeat of that strategy, although one perhaps forced on Obama after the more serious news outlets lost interest in his retread speech and proposals. Unless Republicans follow up with their own appearances on the entertainment-media circuit, Obama will have the floor to himself … like 2012.