Chances are newspaper editorial writers will not tangle with this TV event, ditto with the Federal Communications Commission: Did President Barack Obama’s appearance on NBC’s “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” program violate the campaign finance law, questions Grumpy Editor.
Breitbart.com writer Ben Shapiro thinks so and backs it up with input from federal “Statutes and Rules on Candidate Appearances and Advertising.”
Aside from the president’s banter with Fallon on Tuesday, which Shapiro describes as “the worst ‘comedy’ segment in the history of mankind,” Shapiro explains:
“The equal time rule states that if a licensee permits a person ‘who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station.’”
Shapiro mentions there are exceptions to the rule, namely, “appearances on (1) a bona fide newscast, (2) a bona fide news interview, (3) a bona fide news documentary, or (4) on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events.”
Pointing out “only the second provision could be construed as saving NBC from giving Mitt Romney equal time,” Shapiro adds, “But this was not a bona fide news interview. In fact, it wasn’t an interview at all --- no questions were asked, no answers were given. It was literally Obama reading a campaign speech over a guitar, a horn, a keyboard and some drums.”
Shapiro figures the president’s appearance on the late-night program “was clearly an in-kind contribution by NBC to the Obama campaign.”