Zach Galifianakis's interview with President Obama on his Funny or Die web show "Between Two Ferns" has so far been largely praised as a gamble that paid off. Obama got a few funny lines in, Galifianakis was his cringe-y, awkward self, and the whole thing wrapped up with an Obamacare plug and a jab at George W. Bush. We called the interview "horrifying and great." Some conservatives, however, are not having it.
The Washington Free Beacon's Sonny Bunch accused Galifianakis of suckling at the power teat by conducting a "tame" interview with the president.
The Obama interview ... was just dreadful. After a few semi-unbearable moments during which the president shows he doesn’t at all understand the point of the show — the guest is not supposed to get in good zingers; he’s supposed to be taken down a peg — there’s an utterly unbearable moment during which he hawks the failed social experiment that is HealthCare.gov. It’s just gross. Nothing screams “brave, edgy comedy!” like “I’m here to let The Man sell you on health insurance!”
Galifianakis intentionally let Obama off the hook on this one, Bunch reasons. Know why? Because "Funny Or Die’s co-creators, Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, are committed liberals who think that their second job is to make you laugh. Their first, naturally, is to sell you on the wonders of the Democratic Party." The Washington Examiner's Justin Green seems to think Galifianakis played it safe, too:
President Obama finally found someone he can steamroll http://t.co/oF4PSYZ2AQ— JustinGreen4000 (@JGreenDC) March 11, 2014
And Buzzfeed's Benny Johnson agrees: Obama keeps doing softball interviews with unfunny liberal comedians. When will the president answer the tough questions?
People who have "interviewed" Obama in the last year pic.twitter.com/Zvuij8UN4B— BuzzFeed Benny (@bennyjohnson) March 11, 2014
"Comedians today are interested in comforting the powerful," Bunch insists. "It's gross — and a bit sad." Republican Rep. Randy Weber of Texas thinks the whole thing was a waste of time.
The President shouldn't be wasting time on a parody interview. He should be focusing on the current state of affairs across the globe.— Randy Weber (@TXRandy14) March 11, 2014
This is the same criticism that gets lobbed at The Daily Show's Jon Stewart year after year — he's an agent of the Democratic Party, not a real comedian. He's not skewering Obama, and Obama deserves to be skewered. (Criticism against Stewart has lessened some since he began aggressively covering the failed Healthcare.gov launch). Still, Bunch complains that "modern comedy" is all about being nice to the president. Old comedians like the late Harold Ramis weren't afraid to stand up to the government, Tea Party-style. Ramis would have called Obama out on his controversial drone policy, at least.
But that's the thing — Galifianakis did call him out. Among the topics he brought up in the interview? Drones. The failure of Healthcare.gov ("Why would you get the guy who created the Zune to make your website?"). He asked the president to see his birth certificate! Perhaps what's really irking Bunch & company is that Obama carried off the awkward interview with some humor.
Green, at least, has found an upside:
I for one applaud President Obama for doing another interview that degrades the office of the Presidency. We should respect the POTUS less.— JustinGreen4000 (@JGreenDC) March 11, 2014
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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