The appearance was a first for any sitting US president
Barack Obama has become the first sitting US president to appear on a chat show – the ‘Tonight’ show with Jay Leno.
He had already appeared twice as a candidate. ‘I’m excited, I’m honoured to introduce my next guest, the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama,’ Leno said as his studio band played ‘Hail to the Chief.’
Leno queried Obama about difficult issues — including AIG’s executive bonuses and criticism of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — but with minor exception allowed the president to answer without challenge.
Obama might have sensed from the outset it would not be a grueling exercise. Leno asked if it was fair to be ‘judged so quickly’ after less than two months in office. ‘I welcome the challenge,’ Obama said. ‘In Washington, it’s a little bit like ‘American Idol,’ but everybody is Simon Cowell. Everybody’s got an opinion.’
‘Mr. President, I must say this has been one of the best nights of my life,’ a beaming Leno announced at the end of Obama’s visit yesterday to the show.
The White House scheduled the ‘Tonight’ appearance as part of a broader outreach to promote Obama’s agenda — one that’s already had him on ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter’ this week and includes a ‘60 Minutes’ interview airing Sunday, plus a prime-time news conference Tuesday.