Not everyone laughed when comedian Vice Ganda announced on his social media accounts that he was able to do a one-on-one interview with President Benigno Aquino III last December 23 for his weekly show Gandang Gabi Vice.
To be fair, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong about the President appearing on a comedy show.
Filipino politicians routinely appear in entertainment talk shows to show the public their more human side, especially during election season. Several politicians have already appeared in Vice Ganda’s talk show since it was began two years ago, including Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Sonny Angara as well as former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson.
In his 2014 book “Talk Show Campaigns: Presidential Candidates in Daytime and Primetime Television,” Michael Oarkin, a professor of political communications, explained that appearing in these type of shows enables politicians “to connect to a critical segment of the voting population” because such programs “provide useful political information in a casual setting.”
Aquino’s critics immediately pointed out that while Aquino had time to spare for this and to stand as a godfather to the recent wedding of celebrities Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes, there were other matters that he wasn’t able to fit in his schedule.
For example, he famously skipped Tacloban City when the nation marked the anniversary of super typhoon Yolanda’s landfall last November.
Before that, he chose not to visit the wake of Jennifer Laude, the transgender from Olongapo City that was allegedly killed by an American soldier. Justifying his decision, the President explained that he is “uncomfortable” with the idea of consoling people “he does not know personally.”
While being able to interview a sitting president is a major accomplishment for anyone, Vice Ganda’s feat is particularly stunning especially given the fact that media groups have complained about President Aquino’s inaccessibility to the press since the beginning of his term.
Vice Ganda wasted the opportunity to ask the President about significant issues. Of course, I’m not expecting him to play hardball. But still, that could be done. For example, I remember 2008 US presidential candidate John McCain getting asked by Ellen DeGeneres about his position on same-sex marriages.
Instead, the gay comedian essentially kissed the butt of Mr. Aquino toward the end of the interview, flattering him with statements like “Kayo po ang pinakamahusay na presidente sa buong buhay ko” and “Kayo lang po ang binoto kong presidente na hindi ko pinagsisisihan.” Vice Ganda perhaps have never voted prior to 2010. Who knows? 🙂