When David Cameron decided to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman, what was his aim? As politics in the UK tries to reach the younger generations, was this a PR attempt to target chat-show audiences or an attempt to solidify relations with the US further? Being the first serving British Prime Minister on the programme is certainly a risky PR step to take.
Whether Cameron gained or lost from the experience is hard to say. The British woke up this morning to a series of faux pas from the interview in the media – that Cameron didn’t know the translation of Magna Carta nor who wrote the words and music of Rule Britannia.
The Independent has described his appearance as an ‘ordeal’, a bit dramatic. I’m not sure the majority of the public would view it that way: he did decide to appear on the show himself, and he knew Letterman would try to catch him out. The Telegraph came up with ‘Cameron fluffs citizenship test’. Bit dire really, on the whole he actually did quite well. In fact, Cameron answered far more of the historical and cultural questions correctly than the few errors.
Cameron wasn’t even asked about the coalition or Boris Johnson, or few current issues. This was quite literally a ‘chat’. The political height of that chat was surrounding Britain not participating in the Euro.
This was in great contrast to his earlier appearance at the UN, where he had discussed issues relating to Syria, torture of children, and the atrocities of Assad’s government. Whether appropriate or not, perhaps his later appearance was to make him seem more ‘normal’.
And let’s be honest, at least he didn’t guess ‘Magna Carta’ incorrectly. Admitting that he didn’t know limited the negatives that could come of it – much different to Mitt Romney’s questioning of why aeroplane windows couldn’t open earlier this week.
Some have even said that the appearance was to encourage American visitors to the UK – strange considering the Olympic Games, the biggest PR stunt on earth, just happened in London. The audience did actually cheer when the Games were mentioned, and received Cameron well on the whole.
A success? Probably something that will be forgotten reasonably soon. Three million Americans tuned in, many Brits might have now watched it on YouTube. Increases in votes come the next general election is doubtful, that’s for sure.
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