'The Daily Show,' Rolling Stone, and MTV: Obama's youth vote push

President Obama isn't trying to make Stephen Colbert jealous by appearing on 'The Daily Show' five days before the midterm elections – he's trying to fire up young voters.

Susan Walsh/AP
President Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Oct. 19. Obama is going to appear on 'The Daily Show' with Jon Stewart before the November elections.

President Obama is going to appear on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart before the November elections. Last night the White House announced that Obama will tape a segment for the show on October 27.

What’s the point of that? Is the president angling to get a good spot on the stage for Mr. Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity,” which will be held on the National Mall the following weekend? Or is he just trying to make Stephen Colbert jealous?

Well, he’s probably not going to hang around Washington for the “Sanity” meeting and Mr. Colbert’s competing “March to Keep Fear Alive.” In all likelihood Obama will be out campaigning that weekend in a last-minute push to avoid a Democratic electoral apocalypse. Obama has called the dueling-rally premise “amusing”, but that’s not exactly a full-throated endorsement is it?

No, Obama is appearing on “The Daily Show” for the same reason he recently gave an interview to “Rolling Stone” and appeared in an hour-long MTV "town hall" – young voters. He’s trying hard to fire up a cohort that went overwhelmingly for Democrats in 2008. The audience for Stewart’s show skews young, and many of them view it as a main source of news, even if the producers insist their product is really a hybrid of pseudo-news and comedy.

So expect Obama to tell Stewart that young Democrats need to get “fired up and ready to go” and so forth – or the “March to Keep Fear Alive” will win. When the president talked to “Rolling Stone” he wheeled back and returned to the room after the interview was over to emphasize the point about the need for Democrats to show some enthusiasm. The big rally the president and First Lady Michelle Obama held at Ohio State University last weekend was another event at least partly designed to appeal to the young.

The persuasion isn’t working too well so far, by the way – polls continue to show that GOP voters are more enthusiastic about November than Democrats.

We’ll raise one final point here – the question as to whether Jon Stewart is a Democrat.

Stewart himself has long said that he and his show are non-partisan, but that when he sees something he regards as silly, he points it out. However, Obama appeared on his show just prior to the 2008 elections, and the studio audience greeted him with a rousing round of applause (even though, as Stewart pointed out to them, Obama was not actually there, but in Florida. He was appearing via video feed.)

“Clearly, our show is not a swing show, if you will,” said Stewart at the time.

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