Candidates ride wave of TV appearances

Thu Mar 6, 2008 3:37am EST
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By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Is it a coincidence that Hillary Clinton's first primary victories in more than a month happened after her buzzworthy appearances on "Saturday Night Live" and "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart?"

Clinton's presidential campaign was all but written off after 11 straight primary losses, but her brief appearances on both shows, along with "SNL's" sharp criticism of the press corps as being too light on Obama, has helped turn her campaign around and led to a greater scrutiny of her opponent.

"I think 'Saturday Night Live' will come up as a factor, large or small," NBC News anchor Brian Williams said on MSNBC on Wednesday, a day after Clinton won the key states of Ohio and Texas.

While no one's willing to say that the "SNL" appearance led to the victories, it's clear that it had some kind of impact.

"We know something happened in the last three days of the campaign that put her over the top," said CNN political analyst Bill Schneider, who credits the "SNL" factor as one plausible explanation.

Joe Trippi, former John Edwards campaign manager and now an analyst for CBS News, said Clinton's "SNL" and "Daily Show" moments extended well beyond TV and into the minds of primary voters.

"It's not just the millions who watch the shows," Trippi said. "Now it's also YouTube and the buzz that's created, and everybody's talking the next day about the things that happened."

Paul Levinson, chairman of the communications department at New York City's Fordham University, said the "SNL" boost may have been trumped by Clinton's "3 a.m. crisis" ads. But her appearance showed that she was relaxed and had a sense of humor about the campaign and herself.   Continued...

<p>Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton waves to supporters at her Ohio primary election night rally in Columbus, Ohio March 4, 2008. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan</p>