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President Barack Obama’s stance on “The Tonight Show”

June 3, 2009

On Conan O’Brien’s second night hosting “The Tonight Show,” his coveted new assignment, received a nod from none other than President Barack Obama, who gave a tongue-in-cheek shout out to the pompadoured comedian.barack-obama

It came in the form of an ironic answer to a joke question that NBC newsman  Brian Williams asked Obama during an interview on the eve of the president’s trip to the Middle East. O’Brien aired the exchange on “The Tonight Show” on Tuesday night, starting with Williams’ question.

“I couldn’t help but notice, your trip this week coincides with Conan O’Brien’s first week on the air,” Williams said to Obama in the video. ”Is it because of that or were there considerations perhaps that you almost canceled to stay and watch his first week as host of the ‘Tonight Show’?”

Obama countered in a deadpan tone.     

“This is something we’ve discussed several times in the Oval Office, how to manage this transition between Leno and Conan, and I think he’s up to the task,” Obama said. ”But I just want him to know that there’s not going to be any bailout coming from Washington if he screws it up.”

obrien1Obama appeared on “The Tonight Show” back in March when Jay Leno was hosting it, becoming the first sitting president on a late-night talk show as he discussed his economic plan for the recession, in a venue normally reserved for Hollywood stars pitching their latest film or TV projects.

Media writer Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune called the tactic “Bypass the Press,” a play on the name of the more staid news show “Meet the Press” where politicians normally try to sell their policies.

 So joking aside, Obama may have a passing interest in ”The Tonight Show” if he plans to appear on the program again. But the president with the gift for punchlines also appreciates a good joke, which is what the video segment with Williams really was. Now America knows where he stands on “The Tonight Show.” With that out of the way, it’s on to seek peace in the Middle East.

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