Bozell & Graham Column: Obama Underlines Failure at 'The Daily Show'

Conservative Twitter wit Stephen Miller unleashed his latest “President Ash Carter” joke recently at the unseriousness of the outgoing president: “President Ash Carter has made an unannounced visit to troops in Afghanistan. Barack Obama announced he’s going on The Daily Show.

While liberals complain that Donald Trump will never be serious enough to be president, or insist Trump must grant a press conference, Obama is keeping up with his round of adoring interviews with liberal late-night comedians, from Stephen Colbert to Samantha Bee.

The show began with Daily Show host Trevor Noah apologizing profusely for delaying the president his platform, and Obama joking “You guys wouldn’t book us. I kept on calling.” Noah began by asking, as surrogate for a gobsmacked liberal audience, about Obama’s reaction to the CIA declaring Russia hacked the election “to sway the election for Donald Trump.”

The softball session wrapped up with Noah’s tender question on race, since both men are biracial. “It is often difficult to navigate and skirt that line between speaking your mind and sharing your true opinions on race — whilst, at the same time, not being seen to alienate some of the people you are talking to,” Noah said. “You know, because if you are a white person who’s speaking about race, then you are just a person who’s interested in race. If you are a person of color who’s speaking about it, it’s like ‘Oh, the black thing…again.’ So the question I’ve always wanted to know is how did you navigate that?”

That’s a roundabout way of saying “Talk about race. Go.”

Time magazine’s Daniel D’Addario actually scorned Noah for going so easy on President Obama, that it was just a series of Obama speeches. Rambling answers during this pre-taped interview stretched out to 500 words, with no effort to edit for purposes of trying to make it interesting. 

“While the interview didn’t need to be an interrogation to be successful, it seemed apparent that Noah had long since ceded control of the proceedings to the President, and was serving him nice juicy pitches over the plate with clear signals that it wasn’t going to get any tougher.” Time ruled that he bungled it: “It’s a missed opportunity that Noah, as the audience surrogate, seemed quite so intimidated by his job.”

There’s reason to be intimidated. Liberals have seriously asserted that if Jon Stewart hadn’t selfishly retired from his fake-anchorman gig, Hillary Clinton would be the President-elect. In some quarters Noah is resented for being too unfunny to help destroy Trump.

Critics should have set their expectations low for a Daily Show interview with Obama. It’s not like Jon Stewart ever grilled Obama. Genuflection was the order of the day during the Stewart era and is expected now. TV critic Daniel Fienberg at The Hollywood Reporter actually praised Noah for barely being present: “Noah stayed out of his own way.”

Fienberg praised Noah for helping the president along. "The Daily Show gave President Obama one of his best forums since the election and Noah wisely sensed that he was only occasionally needed to progress the conversation," he stated, "and let ‘the soon to be former tenant of the White House’ steer things.”

Obama’s insistent request to appear and be honored for a half-hour might have seemed like a gift to Trevor Noah....but it wasn’t. It was further proof his tenure at Comedy Central is doomed, just as doomed as the cancelled Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. For liberals, Stewart looms over that show like a legend, the way Obama will loom over the Democratic Party he dismantled.

Brent Bozell's picture

Tim Graham's picture