White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that President Obama and his staff chose not to do an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Wednesday because of “more serious matters the president is dealing with on the international scene.”
TMZ reported on Monday that Obama would do a segment for the show during a trek to Los Angeles, in which he also will attend two fundraisers and speak on job training at a technical college. But ABC and Kimmel’s reps quickly denied such a booking.
Yet Earnest confirmed at the White House daily briefing that they “had been in touch with representatives from Mr. Kimmel’s show about the possibility of participating, of having the president participating, on this trip.”
“We ultimately elected not to have the president do that interview over the course of this trip, and that is at least in part related to the challenges of doing a comedy show in the midst of some of these other more serious matters that the president is dealing with on the international scene.”
“At this point we just elected not to do it,” he added.
Obama has been criticized by some Republican opponents for keeping the trip on his schedule given the crisis in Gaza and the aftermath of the crash of the Malaysian Airlines jetliner in the Ukraine.
But Earnest defended Obama for keeping his plans for the L.A. trip, which include a fundraiser at the home of “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes. He said that the political activities did not interfere with his duties as commander in chief.
“The president, like most professionals, has the capability to deal with more than one priority at a time,” Earnest said.
Obama became the first sitting president to appear in-studio on a late night talk show when he appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in March 2009. He followed that up with more appearances on the show, as well as “Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” He has yet to appear on Kimmel’s show, which is taped in Hollywood.