Is it too soon to joke about the U.S. Secret Service sex scandal?
Not if you’re late-night host Jimmy Fallon and President Obama is your guest.
In an interview with Obama at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, Fallon joked with the president that he had been “having the best time hanging out with the Secret Service” over the past two days.
Obama was a bit more serious in his response.
“The Secret Service, these guys are incredible,” Obama said, according to the White House press pool report on the interview. “They protect me, they protect our girls. A couple of knuckleheads shouldn’t detract from what they do. What they were thinking, I don’t know. That’s why they’re not there anymore.”
The full interview will appear on Fallon’s “Late Night” show on NBC on Tuesday night.
So far, 12 Secret Service employees and 11 military service members have been implicated in the misconduct ahead of Obama’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia, two weeks ago. They are accused of heavy drinking, visits to strip clubs and payments to prostitutes.
Six of the Secret Service personnel have been dismissed from the agency, including two supervisors. Another has been cleared of serious misconduct but could face administrative action, while the other five remain on administrative leave. The military members have had their security clearances revoked.
On the final day of his trip to Cartagena, for an international economic summit, Obama said at a news conference he would be “angry” if the allegations against the men are true.
During his interview with Fallon, held at UNC’s Memorial Hall, Obama played along with a short bit during which Fallon said he wanted to “slow-jam” the news.
The president emerged from behind a curtain, to hearty cheers from the student crowd, and said: “I’m president Barack Obama, and I, too, want to slow-jam the news.”
Obama then talked about the importance of keeping student loan interest rates low, which is the main thrust of his two-day trip to three swing states, including stops in Iowa and Colorado.
During the interview, Fallon asked him about watching sports.
“You’ve got to go with the Bulls,” Obama said of his hometown Chicago basketball team.
“I don’t get a chance to watch a lot of TV,” he added. “I’ll date myself when people ask me what kind of comedies I like, I’ll say ‘Groundhog Day.’”
Obama also was asked about his own college days, and Fallon showed off a black-and-white photo of Obama as a student
“Notice the afro,” the president said, drawing laughs.