The President is not a celebrity
Jordan Ryan | Monday, November 9, 2015
Last week, the women of ABC’s “The View” had some not-so-nice things to say about Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.
Michelle Collins, referring to Fiorina’s visage at the most recent Republican debate, said “She looked demented! Her mouth did not downturn one time.” Joy Behar, professional as always, added that, “I wish [Fiorina’s face] was a Halloween mask. I’d love that.” Collins had to add more gas to the fire by responding, “Smiling Fiorina? Can you imagine? It’d give me nightmares.” While we have grown accustomed to the tired, obnoxious and quite misinformed comments of the ladies of “The View,” these ad hominem attacks crossed a line. Each presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, deserves respect from the press and the public.
This lack of respect for presidential candidates should not come as a total surprise. President Obama has dramatically transformed the role of the president in the media. Not only is he the leader of the free world, but he is also a common feature of late-night talk shows. In his first term alone, President Obama was fawned over as a guest on shows like “The Colbert Report,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brian,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “The Tonight Show” (five times), “The Daily Show” (seven times), and “Late Night with David Letterman” (seven times). Let’s not forget about his appearances on daytime shows. He famously denied a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to make an appearance and be served softballs on the very same “The View.” He has been featured on MTV and SportsCenter. The holder of the highest office in our country has abandoned what was left of the dignity of the office in the course of being interviewed by comedians such as Zach Galifianakis and dancing to Beyoncé on the Ellen DeGeneres show. These all seem far from presidential.
Unfortunately, this has changed the future of the relationship between the President, presidential candidates and the media. By appearing on entertainment programs that employ crude humor and gross insults, candidates drop themselves to that level of childishness. They become willing participants in the jokes as well as the butt of them. Candidates feel obligated to subject themselves to the immaturity and unprofessionalism of these shows in order to connect with millennials. But what our generation is hearing is not the least bit substantive or helpful in differentiating candidates.
In 1960, on a late-night talk show, JFK eloquently stated how communism was a great danger to America. Unfortunately, this kind of dialogue is impossible to achieve in today’s media. Democratic political consultant Jon Macks, who spent 22 years writing for Jay Leno, said, “If a candidate goes on and says, ‘Let me tell you about my three-point plan, Mr. Fallon.’ That’s a disaster. They want to hear personal stories about who these people are.” Presidential candidates are seen as Kardashian-like in the eyes of the American public. They want to hear gossip, not platforms.
Many argue this is the way to connect with millennials. Even if this is correct, it does not change the fact that many millennials fail to demonstrate a depth of caring and understanding about politics. The blame should not be shouldered by politicians alone. Millennials have created an environment where the circus gets attention and the theater of serious debate remains vacant.
Americans need to take our political future more seriously. While presidents do not generally hold the power to legislate, they do have the most power to navigate. The President is not a celebrity, so don’t treat him like one. To the women of “The View,” show some class. To the American people, start to take these matters seriously. They affect you in more ways than you know. Watch Fox. Watch CNN. Read a newspaper. Find more substantive information about policies, platforms and proposals. If you have not paid attention yet, start now. These are serious issues; it’s time for us to be serious people.
Jordan Ryan, sophomore resident of Lyons Hall, studies political science and peace studies along with minors in Constitutional studies and business economics. She can be reached at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.