Pop Culture POTUS: Trump vs. Obama

You probably will not see President Donald Trump guest-starring on “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” anytime soon.

Nor, for that matter, will you see first lady Melania Trump making a cameo on a network sitcom.

The Trumps and Obamas have starkly different philosophies when it comes to interacting with the sports and entertainment industries.

Here we compare the Obama pop culture protocol versus that of his successor:


The Obamas had a symbiotic relationship with the entertainment and sports industries. They were always happy for an opportunity to push an agenda or humanize themselves via appearances on wildly watched programs, and the shows in turn jumped at the chance to have the two most famous people in the U.S. grace their sets.

Obama had a tendency to show up in places that he knew a younger demographic would be watching. Take for instance the time in March 2014 when he appeared on “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis”:

There were also the times that Obama slow-jammed the news on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” including once in June 2016:

In addition to showing up on the traditional late-night shows (he has done multiple mean tweets readings on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”), Obama would make sporadic appearances on “The Colbert Report,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and even gave one of his last one-on-one interviews as president to Samantha Bee.

Sports played a huge role in Obama’s presidency. He would tape his March Madness picks for SportsCenter, golf with Steph and Dell Curry and even almost allowed Theo Epstein to convert him from a White Sox to a Cubs fan after the Cubs won the World Series last year.

Neither of the Obamas were particularly avid social media users. They tweeted once in awhile, but they seemed more interested in addressing the American people via camera than from behind a keyboard.


Hollywood and the sports world now must get used to a president with no interest in working with them. The two industries mostly spoke out against Trump during the 2016 election, and he in turn seems to want nothing to do with anyone who doesn’t unequivocally support him and his ideas.

He tends to take frequent shots at the Hollywood elite over social media, like he did the morning after the Women’s March, claiming in a tweet that celebrities’ involvement did the demonstration no favors.

It’s quite possible that Trump is already planning on hitting the entertainment industry where it would hurt the most: his transition team has said it plans to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Of course, Trump is a veteran of big-time entertainment ventures. He rose to fame as host of the reality show “The Apprentice” in addition to producing the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.

Before dabbling in politics, Trump made cameos in various movies and television shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sex and the City and Zoolander. He even ran into Kevin McCallister in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”:

Trump did appear on a few talk shows on the campaign trail, including a controversial September chat with Jimmy Fallon. He also hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live” as a presidential candidate.

However, he now spends many Sunday mornings tweeting about how much he dislikes Alec Baldwin’s “SNL” impression of him.

Trump has never shown much interest in sports, but he did poach New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and WWE co-founder Linda McMahon to be the U.S. ambassador to Britain and to lead his Small Business Administration, respectively.

It’s too early to tell, but early signs indicate that Melania Trump will not be as ubiquitous a first lady as Michelle Obama was. So far, her main contributions to pop culture have been fashion comparisons to Jackie Kennedy and a GIF of her befuddling the Obamas with her gift on inauguration day.

Where Trump and Obama will differ the most, arguably, is Trump’s use of Twitter as his primary messaging tool. Trump has never had a problem speaking his mind, but Twitter has been his canvas for expression more than televised press conferences, at least on the campaign trail and the early days of his presidency.

It remains to be seen whether Trump will try to use his newfound stature to make more appearances in the pop culture realm, but given his general disdain for most of Hollywood and its negative view of him, the only place he may show up in the near future is a Kanye West video (and this time it will actually be him).

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