Earlier this year President Obama introduced the first episode of Cosmos, a Fox sequel/remake of the 1980 Carl Sagan PBS mini-series of the same name, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Whose idea was it to get the president involved? Tyson explains in an interview at Grantland's Hollywood Prospectus:
What was the process of getting Obama to introduce the show in the first episode?
That was their choice. We didn't ask them. We didn't have anything to say about it. They asked us, "Do you mind if we intro your show?" Can't say no to the president. So he did. He may have been riding the very high media attention that Cosmos had been getting on the ramp-up. Because it was airing in prime time on a network —
It was a good look for him.
Right. Because it was airing in prime time on a network, reporters that normally covered television entertainment and not television documentaries were tasked with covering Cosmos. It was on their beat, the Fox lineup on a Sunday night. So the media attention ended up reaching not only the traditional people that would talk about a documentary, but entertainment reporters. The geek blogosphere was abuzz, and also people who were curious, fans of the original series, and were curious what would happen for it being on Fox. What does it mean that Seth MacFarlane, who's best known for his fart jokes — what does it mean that he's executive producing? There were a lot of people who had some anxieties about that and were eager to learn what would unfold.
That same week, by the way, Obama — the White House — released its budget, which included a reduction in the science spending in NASA. So if you look at it politically, rather than gesturally, it's easy to think of that as a way for him to try to gain points back in the science community, immediately after dropping the science budget for NASA.
Can't say no to the president, even when he's injecting himself into something to score political points. A pro-tip for Tyson: Yes, you can. I imagine it'll become easier for many celebrities to say no when a Republican takes the White House again.
Via the Twitter feed of Instapundit