Pop Culture

Obama defends ‘Tonight Show’ appearance

President Barack Obama is defending his appearance on Jay Leno’s late-night talk show.

He said his Thursday appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” is not keeping him from pressing matters. Some critics have questioned whether the television stint distracts from his work to fix the economy.

Obama said he can do more than one thing at a time and is working on a host of issues, including climate change and health care reform.

Meanwhile, the pool of media that accompanies the president wherever he goes won’t be allowed into the NBC studio during Thursday’s taping of the show. That pool of about 14 journalists, made up of print and radio reporters, one TV camera crew and a few still photographers, will instead be held in a separate room where a live feed from the studio will be shown.

NBC has said its set is too small to accommodate the photographers and it will release a photo of its own afterward for the media to use.

The White House compromised Wednesday evening, saying photographers would be allowed to take pictures during a commercial break.

Photographers argued for the right to independently document the taping, a rare — and perhaps unprecedented — appearance by a sitting president on a late-night comedy show and an event billed primarily as a news event, not entertainment.

The three news agencies with photographers in the pool, The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse, have in the past refused to distribute some White House-provided photos of Obama.

Obama is in California on a two-day swing to promote his economic agenda. He is the first sitting president to appear on the late-night program. Aides say it’s a way for Obama to make his case to more Americans.