The Limits of Late Night

Updated

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

On “The Colbert Report” last night, Michelle Obama drew some ribbing from Stephen Colbert for being “elitist,” diffusing with humor the whole hubbub over her husband’s “bitter” remarks. Almost two weeks ago, in an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Hillary Clinton sat down on his couch and immediately quipped that she’d be dodging sniper fire. It seemed like a great way to get beyond an unflattering campaign moment via some honest to goodness laughs.

But the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests that late-night levity has its limits — despite the  notion that it is a great way to deal with negative press.  “The Tonight Show” appearance may have helped the Clinton campaign move beyond the sniper fire story, but Clinton’s trustworthiness still taken a hit. She is viewed as “honest and trustworthy” my 39% of Americans, compared to 52% in May 2006.

Anne E. Kornblut and Jon Cohen write in the Post, “Her advisers’ efforts to deal with the problem — by having her acknowledge her mistakes and crack self-deprecating jokes — do not seem to have succeeded. Privately, the aides admit that the recent controversy over her claim to have ducked sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia probably made things worse.”

Meanwhile, his wife’s “Colbert” appearance notwithstanding, Barack Obama is bound to be dogged by charges of elitism, even as polls suggest that the flap has had little impact on his support.

Food Flap:
Just about every cable network has had its moment in this presidential race — remember Clinton’s hour on Hallmark Channel? So how does the Food Network get in on the action? The gourmet cabler was at the center of a dispute on Tuesday over where Cindy McCain got a series of recipes that were posted on the campaign Website as “McCain Family Recipes.” It turns out that they were lifted from the Food Network. The campaign, reports the AP, blamed it on an intern. “One of our web interns apparently appointed Rachel Ray as the senior policy adviser in our campaign’s department of gourmet,” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said Wednesday. “The intern was dealt with swiftly, and the site is down for revision. Our apologies to the Food Network.” For the flap, Cindy McCain was tagged “worst person in the world” by Keith Olbermann on his Tuesday show.

“View” View: Cindy McCain will get a chance to switch the topic when she guest hosts “The View” on Monday.

No ESPN: One cabler that is shunning politics for the time being is ESPN. It has cancelled a planned podcast with Barack Obama, saying, “Fans don’t expect political coverage on our outlets.”

The $300 Gap: The Los Angeles Times’ Tina Daunt reports on the $300 difference that separates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in Hollywood money — the closest that they have been throughout the campaign. They each have raised about $3 million from the entertainment industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. I wrote about this last week — and it is an amazing virtual dead heat. What will be even more amazing is if the gap narrows further after the March numbers are added up. The campaigns have to file their next reports by April 20.

MSNBC Rejects Ad: Ben Smith of the Politico reports that MSNBC has rejected an advertisement from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group that was created by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on the grounds that it is too “controversial.” The ad, below, is aimed at closing the “gun-show loophole” that allows an easier way to purchase a firearm.

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