Human Events Blog

Obama’s Jimmy Fallon appearance violated campaign law

Ben Shapiro at points out something that apparently didn’t occur to anybody who planned President Obama’s creepy love-fest appearance on Wednesday night’s Jimmy Fallon show: it was a blatant violation of campaign law.

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.”

There are exceptions to the rule: 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.

Only the second provision could be construed as saving NBC from giving Mitt Romney equal time. 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.

(Emphasis mine.)  It will be fun to watch Obama’s legal team, and the media, explain how an “interview” can occur in the complete absence of questions.  Maybe they’ll aruge that Obama doesn’t really answer questions anyway.

Shapiro also makes a strong case that Obama’s appearance was a massive and illegal in-kind campaign contribution by NBC – a five-minute campaign commercial worth millions of dollars – for which they should “be punished to the fullest extent of the law.” 

It’s hard to imagine how they could fully compensate Mitt Romney with equal time, since Fallon and his crew are unlikely to make doe eyes at Romney and offer him a musical serenade while he reads a campaign speech, at least not without a heavy layer of irony.  Also, the Obama appearance happened just as Romney was wrapping up the Republican nomination, making the true value of NBC’s fabulous in-kind donation more difficult to determine.

This will probably get waved off as another one of those silly little laws that His Majesty doesn’t have to acknowledge, like the one that requires him to submit a plan to address Medicare insolvency, or the one that compels the Senate to pass a budget.  Warning to the Romney campaign: do not assume that you get to violate campaign finance laws with impunity, too.

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  • MicahStone

    The US House should vote to require that the N(itwit)B(iased-socialist)C(lowns) network and the M(ore)S(ocialism)from N(itwit)B(iased-socialist)C(lowns) network both register as OBOZO SUPER PACS and demand full financial disclosure of their OBOZO re-election campaign activities.

  • Local_Ale

    TARP was a massive bipartisan in-kind donation to GE parent company of NBC–this was peanuts.

    Conservatives should take the time to point out how stupid the campaign finance laws are, not waste time writing up a traffic ticket.

  • John Hayward

    We can do both.  Traffic tickets are easy to write.  And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let my country go down the tubes because one candidate gets to flaunt the rules all he wants, and good men said nothing.

  • MSpector

    Agreed. If this appearance was such small potatoes, why did Obama do it? Simple: he got free face time on network TV without having to worry about being made to answer any difficult questions. Yes, we need the big picture; but we also need to hammer on the small stuff because those are the straws that can break the camel’s back. Keep it up, John.

  • Dunestone

    Yes, we’re always going to have bigger fish to fry, but that doesn’t mean that the smaller fish get a pass in the meantime.  Big crime, small crime – it’s all crime.  Either a law was broken or it wasn’t . . . the relative size of the haul is of no importance.

  • ana fermin

    They did have a sit-down Q&A segment. It counted as a legitimate interview under the structure of that given show.

  • Dave D

    Spot on !  Free speech should be denied to anyone except Romney

  • Dustoff

     Try it the other way around you dummy.  It’s Romney who is being denied.
    Not that you lib’s would care about law anyway!

  • phillipjackson

    So I guess that Fox News should be registered as a superPAC supporting republicans, like Karl Rove’s group???

  • Dave

    When has Obama ever respected the rule of law in anything?  Obama and his cronies are probably cracking up over this “law.”

  • Keith1941


    obama is a violation of everything American. 

  • Local_Ale

    All right, fair, we can do both.

    But let me mention, Mr. Hayward, Paul TARP Ryan, and Mitt TARP Romney are magically made conservative leaders by these same networks, the same so called MSM–sure they play the bad guys on liberal MSM, and the good guys on something like FOX–but someone might think this whole two party thing is all a scam by not going to the heart of the beast.

    BTW, what was the legality in carrying Newt Gingrich’s column (Newt also supported TARP) while he was running for President? Being serious here–not just a smart ass.

  • deeme

    I’m very bothered that in a time of so much danger around us and soldiers giving up limb and life, that the office of the Presidency has sunk so low as the level of comedian, there is nothing funny about anything that is going on..We are truly a joke.

  • Keith1941

    We don’t want to shut the libs up.  I quit watching sitcoms years ago.   Listening to obama, Reid, Pelosi, Biden, Debbie Wassermann Schultz, any host on MSNBC is all the laughing this senior citizen’s heart can take! 

    To all of the dumbass dem and members of the MSM, I apologize for leaving you off the list.

  • Keith1941

    Your patience with Dave is beyond anything a human should have…..