One of the biggest criticisms of the current presidential election campaigns is that the candidates’ ability to entertain trumps their command and discussion of the issues. As this story goes, image appears to matter more than the ability to lead the “free world.” That is what is being said, but is it really true? Have presidential elections degenerated into White House Idol? Are we in danger of nominating Sanjaya for President?

The latest trigger for this critique, Donald Trump’s hosting of Saturday Night Live this past weekend, is not something new to presidential politics. Hillary Clinton has appeared more than once on the show since the launch of her 2016 campaign. During the 2012 campaign, President Obama appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to “Slow Jam” the news. During the 1992 campaign, Bill Clinton played his saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show. Even Richard Nixon appeared on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In in 1968 to deliver the show’s signature punch-line, “Sock it to me.”

These pop culture appearances by presidential candidates, challengers and incumbents alike, are nothing new. But while these appearances initially relied on the reach of the television shows where the candidates appeared and the subsequent reach of the news coverage those appearances engendered, today’s candidate can get a significantly larger and more sustained additional boost via social media.

Read the rest of Alan’s piece at Social Media Today.