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Late-night TV’s role in the presidential elections

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28:  Jimmy Fallon hosts
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Jimmy Fallon hosts "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on January 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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In true late-night tradition, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were guests last week on “The Tonight Show.”

During the separate interviews, host Jimmy Fallon messed-up Trump’s hair and took Clinton’s pulse. As reported in Vulture, Fallon’s “nice-guy” act didn’t win him any points on Twitter, where critics took jabs at the comedian for not giving an edgier interview.

Late-night is no stranger to injecting comedy into presidential elections. Bill Clinton played his saxophone on “The Arsenio Hall Show” during his 1992 campaign, and as early as 1960, Jack Paar had John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon as guests on “The Tonight Show.”

But what is the role of comedy in presidential races and should late-night hosts give tougher interviews? Larry weighs in with media and entertainment reporter Joe Flint on Fallon’s performance and how late-night comedy can impact an election.

What do you think of Jimmy Fallon’s interviews with Trump and Clinton? Do you take any stock in late-night interviews or performances with presidential candidates?


Joe Flint, media and entertainment reporter for the Wall Street Journal