As part of a news interview with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams, President Obama took part in a spoof segment where he promoted the network’s “Tonight Show,” newly hosted by Conan O’Brien who took over the reins this week from Jay Leno.

“I think that Conan will do an outstanding job,” Obama said when asked by Williams whether he almost canceled his overseas trip “to stay and watch” O’Brien’s first week hosting the program.

“This is something we discussed several times in the Oval Office, how to manage this transition between Leno and Conan. And I think he’s up to the task. But I just want him to know that there is not going to any bailout coming out from Washington if he screws it up.”

The joke is already getting the attention of some in the mainstream media, such as Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times, who noted:

“There was a time when such cross promotion between a network news division and its corporate entertainment sibling – during a presidential interview, no less – would have caused rebellion in the newsroom. It will be interesting to see what reaction, if any, there will be to this bit of stunt programming at NBC News. It will also be interesting to see if there is any political blowback, especially from those who believe that some in the news media are too chummy with the president and his administration.”

Reaction from readers is already being posted online, including:

  • I thought the bit was really funny. What’s the big deal?
  • Obama owes NBC so much for shilling for him, he wanted to shill back.
  • The love for Obama is beyond measure in the country. No worries Mr. President. Keep spending us into oblivion. Keep expanding government with a wink, a smile, and a rhetorical flourish. The people and the press love you too much to care about the long term harm that is being done.
  • I know who Jay Leno is, and I’ve heard of Conan O’Brien, but who is this guy Obama?
  • Embarrassing. Great journalists of the past must be turning in their graves at what is going on. First I see Brian Williams bowing to the president and then this. Welcome to Obama’s new state-run media. It appears that those who appreciate the media’s role in holding our ‘leaders’ accountable are now sadly S.O.L.
  • This is (supposed to be) the president of the United States of America and he’ doing an infomercial for NBC. Wake up, America! The joke is on you! The country is sliding into socialism, our foreign policy is to apologize to tyrants and bow to the Islamic sheiks and mullahs, and you thinks it’s okay for BHO to pull these stunts? He’s the laughing stock of the world.
  • At last, Obama finds his true calling. As a comic on late night television. But, how did they get the teleprompter into the car? At least we know that he’ll have a future career come Jan. 21, 2012.

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