The Importance of Being on Ellen

Today on Salon, Rebecca Traister looks at how daytime television—particularly The View, Ellen, and The Rachael Ray Show—is impacting the election.

Writes Ms. Traister:

Credit Sarah Palin, or Hillary Clinton, or unprecedented excitement over the historic candidacy of Barack Obama and appreciation for his exceptionally appealing wife. Maybe it’s the panic about the financial crisis, outrage at the mishandling of the war, fury over gas prices, worries about the environment — all of which are so powerful that they’re causing the election to seep into unexpected cultural corners, like Us Weekly and porn. Whatever the reason, daytime talk shows have showcased some of the most sophisticated (as well as some of the most mind-numbingly stupid) conversations about what’s happening on the political stage this season.

Ms. Traister cites the interview Ellen DeGeneres did with Senator John McCain in May—during which she cheerily pressed him about gay marriage and civil rights—as “a glimpse at what the daytime format makes possible: a breezy, casual, personal exchange as vehicle for a larger social conversation.”

In September, Jacques Steinberg of The New York Times looked at the growing power of The View and offered this vignette about the Barbara Walters-led chat show’s hard(ish)-hitting interview with Senator McCain on September 12th:

[S]oon after it was broadcast, Ms. Walters recalled in an interview at her ABC office on a recent afternoon, she received an e-mail message from Rosie O’Donnell, a former ‘View’ co-host whose on-air monologues were often far left of center.
‘Now I know I’m in trouble,’ Ms. Walters said she thought. ‘I’ve got a lovely e-mail from Rosie complimenting me on the interview.’
The Importance of Being on Ellen