Was the 2008 Election Won on Late-night TV?

Probably not, but that didn’t stop candidates from getting the most out of post-prime time shows. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, presidential candidates set a record for number of appearances on late-night shows. The hopefuls appeared 110 times, more than four times the number in 2004. Fifty of these appearances came before the primaries even kicked off. (Of course there was no Republican primary in 2004.)

Ironically, although John McCain led the field with 17 appearances, it was the one he didn’t make that will ultimately be remembered the most. The Republican challenger canceled an interview with David Letterman, claiming that he was suspending his campaign although later that night he submitted to a Q&A with Katie Couric. The Late Show host ripped into his friend, inciting a national controversy.

Bill Clinton started the trend with his saxophone appearance on Arsenio Hall’s show in 1992.

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