He went to Harvard, she went to Boston College. He grew up in Brookline, she’s from Cranston, Rhode Island. They both became famous thanks to TV, him with his own show, her with a turn on the hit reality series, “Survivor.’’ But judging from events this week, don’t expect Conan O’Brien and Elizabeth Hasselbeck to be clinking glasses of Sam Adams anytime soon.
Hasselbeck, the feisty host on “The View’’ who frequently is the lone conservative voice on the gab-fest, could not resist taking her shot when she had President Obama and his wife Michelle on the talk show Tuesday. Hasselbeck read from a clipboard where she cited statistics about median household income, the income gap, the unemployment rate and other economic figures.
Then, looking directly at Obama, she said, “Some would ask is it unfair to assume that Mitt Romney may fail the middle class, when, statistically speaking, they’d argue, that your administration is failing the middle class. How do you respond to that?’’
Obama went right into a lengthy, detailed answer. But Conan used some playful editing so that it looked like the president, without skipping a beat, turned immediately to his right after Hasselback finished and said, “Happy birthday, Barbara,’’ and kissed Barbara Walters on the cheek. The audience enjoyed the whole thing, but Tuesday night Conan O’Brien, on his late-night show, didn’t seem to be in a laughing mood.
“I think the president was pretty smooth,’’ Conan said, before showing the clip. But then he went on a rant.
“Who the hell’s Elizabeth Hasselbeck? She won a reality show. She didn’t even win, she was like, fifth! On “Survivor.’’ ‘Hey, leader of the free world, answer this!’’ Then he did a mock shriek, “I was in the Australian edition. I was in the jub-jub tribe. You better listen to my complaints!’’
As for Obama, his full answer for Hasselback included this snippet: “Well look, we’ve gone through the toughest economy, the worst financial crisis and the worst recession since the Great Depression,’’ Obama said. “And that’s not a surprise to anybody. We’ve been living it for the past four years, and everything that we’ve done has been designed to deal with not only the immediate crisis but to make sure that the middle class…is feeling more secure.’’