ABC News’ Yunji de Nies Reports:
President Barack Obama got comfy with the co-hosts discussing the personal, political, and even the pop cultural on “The View” today. Mr. Obama joked that he chose to come on the show because he “was trying to find a show that Michelle actually watched.”
Mr. Obama is the first sitting president to appear in studio on a day time talk show, though President George W. Bush did appear on the Dr. Phil Show in September of 2004 from his Crawford, TX ranch in as part of his re-election campaign.
Barbara Walters, who has been on hiatus from the show for health reasons, returned for the “Red, White & View” special. She kicked off the conversation asking the president about the “roses and thorns,” his highs and lows of late.
The rose? The recent family vacation to Maine, where he and First Lady spent quality time with tweens Malia and Sasha. The thorn?
“Well, where do I begin here?” the President asked, listing the oil spill in the gulf, troubles in the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the H1N1 epidemic. He said his personal biggest thorn is something the public doesn’t see: the condolence letters he regularly writes to the loved ones of those killed at war.
The president was asked about Shirley Sherrod, the USDA staffer who was forced to resign after edited comments she made to at an NAACP event were published out on a conservative website. The President has spoken with Sherrod, the White House has apologized for the incident and offered her a new job in the agency. Sherrod has still not indicated whether she will accept the position.
The president blamed the “24/7 media cycle that’s always looking for controversy and often times doesn’t get to the facts first, generated a phony controversy, a lot of people overreacted including my own administration.”
Mr. Obama said that while there are many people still have biases and prejudices, he believes race relations are improving with each generation.
“When I talk to Malia and Sasha’s friends, they have healthier attitudes around these issues than our generation than our generation does. And we have healthier attitudes than previous generations do, and that’s the progress that we want to keep on making.”
The President said he will not attend Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.
“It would be tough enough having one president at a wedding, you don’t want two presidents at wedding,” he said, “All the Secret service, everybody’s getting magged as they’re going in and all the gifts are getting unwrapped and ripped up.”
The President said in fact, he was not invited to the nuptials and believes that was entirely the right choice.
“Hillary and Bill properly, want to keep this as a thing for Chelsea and her soon to be husband” he said, “And I’m letting you guys know now that you all will probably not be invited to Malia’s wedding or Sasha’s.”
The conversation turned to pop culture, with a “lightning round” led by Joy Behar. The President said he knows that Lindsay Lohan is in jail, wouldn’t comment on whether Mel Gibson needs anger management, and claimed he didn’t know who Snooki is.
But at the White House correspondent’s dinner in May, the President joked about the MTV reality show star, saying that his health care bill would include a provision called the “Jersey Shore-Up.”
“It reads: ”The following individuals shall be excluded from the indoor tanning tax within this bill. Snooki, J-WOWW, the Situation, and House Minority Leader John Boehner,” the President then said.
The co-hosts also wanted to know what’s on Mr. Obama’s iPod (Jay-Z, Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas but no Justin Bieber), whether he plans to get an iPhone (no). He admitted that while he does have an official Twitter account (@BarackObama) he’s not the brains behind it.
“Some 20-year old is doing a lot of the tweeting,” he said.
Staying on technology, the president complained that while he still has a blackberry, the emails that he receives are rather dull.
“Nobody wants to send me the real juicy stuff,” the President said. “It’s all very official.”
The light hearted banter is precisely what critics say the President should not engage in. Even before he reached the couch, many questioned whether appearing in day time is truly presidential.
“I wouldn’t put him on “Jerry Springer,” too, right?” fellow democrat Gov. Ed Rendell said with a laugh on yesterday’s Morning Joe, “I’m not sure he has to go on “The View” to be open to questions.”
The New York Daily News went further on their opinion page yesterday, with the headline “Obama and ‘The View’: Two wars, oil crisis, crashed economy and he’s whooping it up with Whoopi.”
Even former co-host Rosie O’Donnell weighed in on her radio show that the View isn’t the right venue.
“I don’t really think sitting presidents should go do fluffy daytime TV shows,” she said on Rosie Radio.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer defended the choice, explaining that getting a message out in the modern media age requires creativity.
“We’re trying to basically solve a riddle which is that people are more interested in government politics than they ever have before, they’re more informed on what’s happening in the world, yet they’re watching traditional news sources less. so they’re getting information somewhere, how to do you reach those people? that’s what we’re trying to figure out,” Pfeiffer said, “No one should take the fact that he’s done Leno, and Letterman and the View as a sign that we’re going around the traditional press, we’re doing them in addition to the traditional press.”
Watch our story on the “State of the View-Nion” from Nightline.