Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Is Newark mayor Cory Booker wise to keep feuding with 'Tonight Show' host Conan O'Brien? - Sepinwall on TV

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who was the subject of Sundance Channel's excellent "Brick City," somehow finds his way into my column again, thanks to Booker's comic feud with Conan O'Brien - which I suggest may be more amusing than it is politically savvy.

14 comments:

Mrglass said...

First, it is hard to understand why the mayor of Newark spends so much time on national television. I haven't seen him on Conan, but on Bill Maher, Comedy Central, MSNBC... Doesn't M. Booker have more important things to do? He obviously has higher ambitions, but as Alan says such over-exposure doesn't necessarily help this goal.

Second and off-topic, why is Newark station on NJ Transit called "Penn Station", shouldn't it be "New York Station"? Very annoying to fall asleep in the train to wake up in panic at Newark because of this confusing name.

Yet another anonymous said...

A bit OT, but I just wanted to thank you, Alan, for your recommendation of Brick City a couple of weeks ago. It was a terrific documentary and easily kept my interest for those five nights.

Other than Bill Maher's show (and once on Meet the Press), I haven't seen Cory Booker on much TV, but I guess that means I'm not watching the shows he's on.

In general, though I don't mind my politicians showing their human side, or their sense of humor, there is a point at which I think the overexposure is a negative. Also, if you invite all the media in all the time, you can't just try to close that barn door if the news isn't so good at some point.

Aino P. said...

Pst! Conan resembles the president of Finland, Tarja Halonen, not the prime minister.

Adam said...

Booker's playing a long-term game; he'll run for Governor in as little as four years, and just wants to keep building his national name and reputation. No harm here.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Adam, I'm sure Booker has his eyes on a bigger prize, but he's going for it at the expense of Newark's image.

Anonymous said...

Just like Carcetti. So sad. Btw props from Elizabeth. And loved the Simmons interview and podcast.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

At last count Mayor Booker has 810,030 followers on TWITTER (full disclosure-I'm one of them, and he follows me) and now national exposure on TV via Conan. He's reaching out to center and to left of center bloggers (like me). Its becoming clear that a run at the governorship, or possibly the Senate (Frank Lautenberg can't keep running forever-well, can he?) is in the cards.

Is his foray into late night TV damaging to Newark? It all depends on how he and his team spin it. If the mayor gets attention and showcases his accomplishments and improvements in Newark, its a plus. But then again, Newark has supplanted Cleveland as a national punchline in this tongue in cheek feud.

Maybe we should put an asterisk next to this question and check it a year from now.

Isaac, your bartender said...

In regards to Penn Station, the name refers to the railroad that built the station--the Pennsylvania Railraod. There are also Penn Stations in NYC (although it is a shell of what it once was) and Baltimore (as well as cities in Pennsylvania).

As for Cory, I think this is smart. When Conan ends up in Newark--and it will happen--it will make him look good.

Tom said...

P.R. is a huge part of Booker's job, so he can't really let a slap like Conan's go without a response. I doubt that Booker thought Conan would get even nastier in his responses, though. If it all ends up like Isaac suggests, with Conan visiting the new Prudential Center or whatever, it'll be fine. If not, then, yeah, it's unwise for Booker to keep it up. It's too easy to mock urban blight.

TheJersey said...

Any press is good press no?

keyser soze said...

I have to admit, I'm a huge fan of Booker. He's extremely well-spoken, meaning I find him actually answering questions in the moment rather than spouting predesigned, preapproved political talking points. I think he's charismatic, and I think he's actually doing a lot of good for Newark.

Not to mention, when asked what kind of superpower he would want, he answered, "The ability to stop time." He's a genuine geek -- both a geek and genuine -- and he can't do wrong for me.

With that being said, I think the feud on Conan should come to an end soon. I don't know when it started, but it should not be a year-long schtick, as it was with Tarja Holonen of Finland. As a politician, Booker needs to make this a brief feud...

...ending with, as my bartender Isaac already explained, Conan in Newark showing amazing the city has become (under Booker's term). I think this is a WIN -- as long as the feud ends sooner rather than later.

Dan said...

he wound up doing a memorable week of shows from [Finland].
Memorable, yes, but only one show was devoted to the Finland trip!

Booker spent so much time on TV recently because he was plugging "Brick City" - he was not exactly ubiquitous before that. If he's smart he'll lie low for a while...

TheJersey said...

No end to this story yet. The mayor was on Larry King tonight and yes there are plans to meet with Conan on the show

Caleb said...

The mayor was on Conan tonight, in a fun segment.

At the end, Conan gave him a check for $100,000 for a charity he supports.

I'd say they both won on this one, I mean even Hillary came across really well!