Maddow to Obama ‘Ferns’ Critics: Lots of presidents have done comedy, so ‘Lighten up!’

By David Ferguson
Friday, March 14, 2014 9:50 EDT
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In the clip embedded below, Rachel Maddow debunked the contention by many on the right that somehow President Barack Obama degraded the office of the president by participating in the Internet talk show “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis.

In a clip released earlier this week, Galifianakis and Obama traded mock barbs and the president directed young people to go to HealthCare.gov to sign up for health insurance before the March 31 deadline.

Conservatives quickly worked themselves into an angry froth over the clip. Bill O’Reilly proclaimed that Abraham Lincoln never would have appeared on any Internet comedy talk show.

Pundit and former George W. Bush White House advisor David Gergen tweeted, “Unimaginable that Truman, Ike, JFK, Reagan would appear on Between Two Ferns. They carefully protected majesty of their office.”

“No other president has ever done anything like this,” said Maddow. “Why did President Obama decide to degrade the dignity of the office in this unprecedented way?”

Except, she said, that it’s not unprecedented. President Dwight Eisenhower appeared alongside comedians Abbott and Costello on “The Colgate Comedy Hour” in the 1950s.

Richard Nixon made a cameo on the comedy variety show “Laugh In” and even President Ronald Reagan made appearances with comedian Bob Hope and others.

Maddow stated that if viewers think these appearances by the nation’s chief executives cheapen or diminish the office of the president, they probably need to “lighten up.”

“Telling jokes are being part of comedy bits have generations of precedent among American presidents, it really never has diminished the office,” she said.

Watch the video, embedded below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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