Why Hillary can't stick the Daily Show

For those that missed it, Hillary Clinton dropped in – via satellite – for two thirds of the Daily Show last night (US readers click here).

On the one hand this was a clever (or desperate?) move by Hillary. It was an opportunity for her to look young and hip to older voters, and possibly even cleave into one of Obama’s core constituencies – America’s youth. Remember, this is a candidate who picked up 11% of the youth vote in Iowa. Contrast that to Obama’s 57%.On the other hand, the Jon Stewart interview revealed why Hillary can’t dent this demographic. Jon Stewart almost only lobs softball questions to politicians on his show. But that doesn’t mean being a guest is easy. To pull off a Daily Show appearance an interviewee must be prepared to a) be themsleves; b) concede that the circus exists and c) admit to their role in said circus.

Take for example this exchange during McCain’s interview on the Daily Show after he announced he would be giving the commencement speech at Liberty University (the right wing, born again college founded by Dr. Jerry Falwell). 

Stewart: You’re not freaking out on us? Are you freaking out on us? Because if you’re freaking out and you’re going into the crazy base world — are you going into crazy base world?

McCain: I’m afraid so.

Stewart: All right, sir. You know we have great regard for you here, and I hope you know what you’re doing there, I trust that you do. When you see Falwell, do you feel nervous, do you have vomit in the back of your throat — what does it feel like?

McCain: No, but I’ll give him your love.

Essentially, Stewart calls out McCain for pandering to the worst part of the Republican party – and McCain basically concedes “Yes, but I have to do it.” This type of authenticity (I can almost feel Andrew Potter breathing down my neck right now) plays well with young voters. As the most media savvy generation they know the candidates have to jump through all sorts of stupid hoops. If the candidates aren’t going to stand on principle and not do it, they should at least admit they are playing the game.

Sadly, this is not how Hillary played the Daily Show. Instead she stayed scripted to the end and never strayed from her lines. Nor did she seem human. Instead she was just another politician too scared to be personable and too controlling to do anything but campaign in the traditional sense for the audiences votes. This is not a critique of that style per say, but it is exactly the type of performance that makes Hillary unappealing to the young viewers who watch the Daily Show.

Check out the comments section of the Indecision 2008 website. By and large, these young Daily Show viewers were not impressed.

Maybe Hillary will win today,  but if she does, I’m fairly certain her performance last night will have had nothing to do with it.

As an aside, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my main man Beltzner who saved this post from being an unthinking ramble.

12 thoughts on “Why Hillary can't stick the Daily Show

  1. Scott in Montreal

    You make an excellent point. Kerry wasn’t much better IIRC. This is all about understanding what walls Stewart has masterfully busted down between the audience and the marketing (public) face of everything his show comments on. The media is the message, and each show is its on medium – particularly one like Stewart’s.

    This cuts to the core of her inability to communicate her message effectively. A candidate who doesn’t have their eyes open wide enough to figure this out is deemed unworthy of support by the “savvy youth”. That’s why the trust factor isn’t there, even if everyone knows her policy and experience are impressive.

    Reply
  2. Scott in Montreal

    You make an excellent point. Kerry wasn’t much better IIRC. This is all about understanding what walls Stewart has masterfully busted down between the audience and the marketing (public) face of everything his show comments on. The media is the message, and each show is its on medium – particularly one like Stewart’s.This cuts to the core of her inability to communicate her message effectively. A candidate who doesn’t have their eyes open wide enough to figure this out is deemed unworthy of support by the “savvy youth”. That’s why the trust factor isn’t there, even if everyone knows her policy and experience are impressive.

    Reply
  3. The Grumpy Voter

    I watched it too and the only thing going through my mind was a variation on a Borg-ism:

    “We are Hillary Clinton, you will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

    She was that wooden…

    Reply
  4. The Grumpy Voter

    I watched it too and the only thing going through my mind was a variation on a Borg-ism:”We are Hillary Clinton, you will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”She was that wooden…

    Reply
  5. Steph D

    It really is about authenticity, and at the core of it, respect for your audience.

    Whenever a politician gets on a TV show that challenges them at all, you cannot fake authenticity with platform excerpts. They need to let their guard down, or else it becomes apparent they aren’t willing to drop the politicking and actually TALK with the host (and by extension the audience).

    But more importantly, if you believe you can answer every question with a party line, and your audience isn’t smart enough to read through that, then you don’t respect your audience.

    It reminds me of the old MuchVotes ‘back in the day’ when they had the leaders come on for a one-on-one interview and adress questions from the host and audience. Those who were doing it because they had to, or to pander to the youth vote, were so fake, they would have done better simply refusing the invite. That’s probably what Hillary should have done with this invite too.

    Better to not be seen at all than to be seen as a fake!

    Reply
  6. Steph D

    It really is about authenticity, and at the core of it, respect for your audience.Whenever a politician gets on a TV show that challenges them at all, you cannot fake authenticity with platform excerpts. They need to let their guard down, or else it becomes apparent they aren’t willing to drop the politicking and actually TALK with the host (and by extension the audience).But more importantly, if you believe you can answer every question with a party line, and your audience isn’t smart enough to read through that, then you don’t respect your audience.It reminds me of the old MuchVotes ‘back in the day’ when they had the leaders come on for a one-on-one interview and adress questions from the host and audience. Those who were doing it because they had to, or to pander to the youth vote, were so fake, they would have done better simply refusing the invite. That’s probably what Hillary should have done with this invite too.Better to not be seen at all than to be seen as a fake!

    Reply
  7. Dan

    you gotta understand how awkward it is via satellite. Especially on a comedy show where timing is so crucial. I have seen her on the show before where she actually got to come on and she was much better. McCain comes on a lot and, yes, he got those appearances nailed and always looks comfortable.

    Reply
  8. Dan

    you gotta understand how awkward it is via satellite. Especially on a comedy show where timing is so crucial. I have seen her on the show before where she actually got to come on and she was much better. McCain comes on a lot and, yes, he got those appearances nailed and always looks comfortable.

    Reply
  9. Charles

    Well, hats off to her for still winning Ohio and Texas after so little positive publicity in the last few weeks.

    As for the Daily Show, I actually thought she allowed herself to come across as vulnerable. When asked how her campaign was doing, she tried to sound positive but it was clear she was worn down and worried. She didn’t seem unwilling to show that it has been difficult.

    I gotta tell ya.. I have respect for her (even though I lean towards Obama). I don’t dismiss her as many Democrats do. If she comes across as too polished and guarded, it may be because… that’s who she is! It’s not a front.

    Reply
  10. Charles

    Well, hats off to her for still winning Ohio and Texas after so little positive publicity in the last few weeks.As for the Daily Show, I actually thought she allowed herself to come across as vulnerable. When asked how her campaign was doing, she tried to sound positive but it was clear she was worn down and worried. She didn’t seem unwilling to show that it has been difficult. I gotta tell ya.. I have respect for her (even though I lean towards Obama). I don’t dismiss her as many Democrats do. If she comes across as too polished and guarded, it may be because… that’s who she is! It’s not a front.

    Reply
  11. brenton walters

    I was thinking of that appearance by John McCain last night as I was watching the results come in from Texas. He will never be comfortable trying to win the religious right vote, but they may end up supporting him so a Democrat (and a woman or black man, horrors!) doesn’t make it in.

    Aside: the link for the Hillary appearance doesn’t work.

    Reply
  12. brenton walters

    I was thinking of that appearance by John McCain last night as I was watching the results come in from Texas. He will never be comfortable trying to win the religious right vote, but they may end up supporting him so a Democrat (and a woman or black man, horrors!) doesn’t make it in.Aside: the link for the Hillary appearance doesn’t work.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s