Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Politicians gone wild! Obama brings high ratings to Letterman

I'm a bit of a political junkie, so this was my viewing schedule last night. I turned on "Dancing with the Stars" in time to see former Rep. Tom DeLay do the cha cha cha to the tune of "Wild Thing" with the lovely Cheryl Burke; he was not terrible, but the sight of DeLay shaking his sweatpant-covered butt in the rehearsal footage was far more tragic than magic, to paraphrase head judge Len Goodman. Then it was over to "The Jay Leno Show," where Rep. Barney Frank was the target of Jay's 10 @ 10. Rep. Frank is known by both Democrats and Republicans as one of the quickest wits in Congress and he got off a few good lines; when Leno asked him with whom he would prefer to dine, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, he replied: "I guess of the three, I would take Rush Limbaugh, because it would be very painful, and he would come with the painkillers."

Finally, it was time for the main attraction: President Barack Obama on "Late Show with David Letterman." The segment started out with a bit of levity, with President Obama asking to take a closer look at a heart-shaped potato that an audience member had inexplicably brought with her to show Dave. After the president pocketed the spud, the conversation turned to weightier matters, like race and health care reform. I missed the president's Sunday morning chat show appearances, so I can't compare his "Late Show" sit-down to those segments, but Dave once again proved himself to be a thoughtful and respectful interviewer. I especially like the way he allows an interview to be serious without feeling the need to come up with a punch line to lighten the mood, something Jon Stewart too often does with his heavyweight political guests.

The overnight ratings were kind to DeLay, not so much to Jay: "DWTS" was watched by 17.5 million viewers, making it the top show of the night, even though its numbers were down from the last season premiere. (A new episode of "House" proved formidable competition.) "Leno" dropped to a new low, with 5.6 million viewers, not a surprise since it was up against a new "CSI: Miami." In late night, the president helped boost Letterman's ratings to a four-year high: Dave won a 5.6/14 (household rating/share) compared to Conan's 1.9/5. Letterman even dominated in the coveted™ 18-49 demographic.

Since you probably weren't watching, here's Rep. Frank on "Leno":


  1. Anonymous said...

    Dave is a master interviewer and he can allow himself to go from wacky/silly and hilarious, to serious and contemplative depending on the person being interviewed and the subtle nuances the interview is taking.

    I am not into politics but Dave makes even politician interviews a delight to watch. The piece with Obama dealt with some major issues, while being fun and interesting at the same time.

    I realize the interviews in these shows have to follow a certain pre-set script and format, but Dave is more comfortable within those limits than anyone else Ive seen and his quick wit, intelligence and eloquence constantly amaze me.

    I loved how he ended the Obama interview with "and remember, that when things get tough, as they often do in your job, you are in possession of a heart-shaped potato". haha. Bringing it all back to where it started.

    (...Yes, in case you didnt notice, Im a big Letterman fan. LoL. But anyone who follows this blog knows that by now.)