Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Role Reversal

NBC Nightly News Host Brian Williams made news last night as the first network news anchor to host Saturday Night Live. Critics have generally applauded his performance. Today, CNN's Reliable Sources subjected his gig to scrutiny, wondering if it was appropriate for a real journalist to guest on such a show, and noting that a real presidential candidate (Barack Obama) also made a cameo appearance. The verdict (3-1): Mr. Williams has the street cred to do so, because the audience can tell the difference between the evening news and a show like SNL, and nobody really applies a dignity measure to what presidential candidates do on entertainment shows.

I tend to think that's true. It can pay off; recall the saxophone-playing Bill Clinton's appearance on Arsenio Hall in 1992, and Richard Nixon's "sock it to me" guest shot on Laugh-In in 1968. The then-Veep Hubert Humphrey turned down an offer to do the same, and we know who won that election.

Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert's presidential aspirations seem dead in the water. The Executive Council of South Carolina's Democratic Party axed his ballot hopes by a 13-3 vote. But remember the Pat Paulsen Presidential campaigns (beginning in 1968). His campaign slogan: "Just a common, ordinary, simple savior of America's destiny." Is there a Draft Colbert Movement out there?

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