On Friday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz made his first appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Leno, allegedly in his last season as host of the Tonight Show, has not been known as a particularly partisan entertainer, so it was surprising to see him go “Candy Crowley” on Ted Cruz. You may recall that CNN’s Crowley, who moderated a debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, became part of the debate when she began reciting (false) White House talking points on Benghazi. Some on Twitter compared Leno to a prosecuting attorney as he interrupted Cruz and accused him of everything from shutting down the government to wanting violent psychopaths to have guns.
Cruz, for his part, used the appearance to his advantage, clearly understanding both the venue and the audience. Although Cruz is certainly more than capable of holding his own in a debate with Leno, he chose mostly to keep his powder dry, defying the media-generated image of him as a hostile aggressor. He was relaxed and laid back, despite the tough questioning. It seemed to go over well with the audience, which erupted into cheers after several of Cruz’s points.
It’s interesting to go back and watch Leno’s interview with President Obama from this past August and compare the questions and tone with Leno’s interview with Cruz last night. The most obviously noticeable difference is how often Leno interrupts Cruz compared to Obama. Leno lets the president finish nearly every answer. Even when Obama lapses into “um…uh….uh…,” Leno patiently waits for Obama to continue.
There is a stark contrast in how often Leno uses the pronoun “you” when questioning Cruz. Also, Leno speaks about policies and events as if the president has nothing to do with them.
On the following pages you can read the questions side-by-side. Where a question is preceded by dashes (- – ), it means Leno interrupted the interviewee.