When President Barack Obama appeared on The Colbert Report last week — as part of the countdown to the show’s being shuttered on December 18 — some groused that he shouldn’t have.
Certainly, Obama has set a record when it comes to connecting with popular culture through niche television shows.
But who was the first president to appear on a comedy show? (Hint: it was a Republican.) The first to appear on cable entertainment? (Hint: it was a Democrat. Both were candidates for the office at the time.)
For the answers to these questions — as well as which president was the first to broadcast a press conference from the White House and who was the first to record campaign speeches for the masses — check out my story at Medium:
The mass media journey from wax recordings to The Colbert Report leads directly to our internal conflict over governance.
Obama, 2012 SOTU, White House Photo
In 2007, Google and YouTube broke into presidential politics by holding a “debate” in conjunction with CNN. At the time, Google had owned YouTube for less than a year.
Flash forward almost five years. On Monday at 5.30 p.m. Eastern, Google+ (which is also less than a year old), is the stage for a presidential response to last week’s State of the Union address. As in 2007, the questions are generated by us. And as in 2007, which questions get answered is not being left in the hands of the crowd.
The first live radio broadcast from a trial was the Scopes trial in 1925. John Scopes, a Tennessee high school biology teacher, was convicted of violating the Butler Act, which prohibited teaching evolution in schools. His trial highlighted the divide between science and fundamentalist (literalist) religion in the United States.
Flash forward to 2011: only one contestant in the 2011 Miss U.S.A. pageant (out of 51) said that she believed in evolution (“I’m a big science geek”) when asked if evolution should be taught in schools. That was Miss California, Alyssa Campanella, and she was crowned the winner on Sunday. Runner-up, Miss Tennessee, Ashley Elizabeth Durham, on evolution: “that’s not my belief” although she said evolution should be taught in schools. Most contestants said that evolution should be taught alongside other points of view, like creationism (or “Biblical stuff”).
It is almost a full century after Scopes and 202 years after Darwin’s birth, yet evolution remains controversial here, and Americans are scientifically illiterate. Read my complete analysis at The Moderate Voice.
Note: The two articles that tipped me to this story have incorrect headlines/information. Think Progress says two contestants “believe in evolution” — that’s not supported by the video clips on YouTube. USA Today (the primary source for Think Progress) is incorrect on several points.
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