The slate of candidates who are seeking the presidency in 2016 are busy making the rounds on late-night television talk shows as part of their election campaigning.
On his “Late Show” debut program last week, host Stephen Colbert had GOP 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush as a guest, and Vice President Joe Biden, who incidentally is on the verge of running for president on the Democratic side, shortly thereafter.
Late-night television fare offers a presidential candidate the opportunity to reach a segment of the population that typically might not be all that attentive to the news media.
As an added benefit, an evening entertainment venue affords those who are running the opportunity to show supporters and potential supporters a less scripted and more spontaneous side of themselves.
Those who have been following the 2016 presidential campaign thus far recognize what a natural outlet late-night television is for Donald Trump. His first such appearance since he announced his presidential bid took place at the end of last week on the set of “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon.
As far as the Trump campaign is concerned, the candidate’s first foray into late-night hit the mark. Fallon's ratings for the Trump-featured broadcast were the highest Friday ratings in 18 months for the infotainment program.
According to Nielsen, the NBC late-night show attracted 4.5 million viewers. In younger adults 18-49, Fallon earned a 1.2 rating, the highest level for a Friday broadcast since February 2014.
The same day that Trump went on “The Tonight Show” was also the same day that he settled his legal dispute with NBC-Universal, which involved a contract related matter and an untimely withdrawal of the Miss USA Pageant telecast.
Additionally, Trump simultaneously purchased NBC’s interest in the Miss Universe organization, resulting in the mogul having full ownership of the brand. This move completed the separation that NBC had announced in June 2015.
In his “Tonight Show” appearance, the GOP frontrunner was able to promote his campaign. In parallel fashion, he was also able to display a talent over which few of the current presidential candidates can presently claim, facile delivery of self-deprecating humor.
The show featured a pre-taped sketch that began with a Fallon impersonation of Trump as the presidential hopeful prepped for his late-night appearance. The dressing room setting had walls that were exaggeratingly adorned with portraits of the New York magnate.
Fallon, as the Trump imposter, concluded that it would be best to interview himself, and proceeded to face the real Trump as a reflection in a would-be mirror.
“Me interviewing me? That’s what I call a great idea,” the real Trump said to free-wheeling laughter from the in-studio audience. The good-natured ribbing and positive audience response continued throughout the comedy skit.
During the actual sit-down interview that followed, Trump reiterated his vision and optimistic theme, telling Fallon, “We have to become rich again, and we’re going to become great again.”
Trump brought up his novel request to CNN as well, the one in which the cable news channel that is carrying the next GOP debate would donate profits from the broadcast to veteran's groups.
Trump recently wrote a letter to Jeff Zucker, head of CNN, calling for a donation to charity to be made, based on the purported fact that CNN had raised its advertising rates for the upcoming debate 40 times the usual charge.
Trump penned the following in his letter: “While I refuse to brag, and you know very well, this tremendous increase in viewer interest is due 100% to ‘Donald J. Trump.’”
The campaign deftly sent a copy of the letter to the press and posted it on social media as well.
In perhaps the closest attempt by Fallon to throw a “gotcha” question Trump’s way, “The Tonight Show” host wondered aloud whether Trump had “ever in his life” apologized.
His answer further endeared him to the audience.
“I think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong,” Trump said.
Trump will continue his late-night tour on September 22 with an appearance on the show hosted by Fallon's competitor, Stephen Colbert.
CBS is no doubt waiting in breathless anticipation for the inevitable Trump bump.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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