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LONDON – British prime minister David Cameron‘s booking on The Late Show With David Letterman has ignited a media debate here.
His appearance on the U.S. late-night show, scheduled for Wednesday, will mark the first time a U.K. prime minister in office will have appeared on the show. Cameron is in New York to give a speech to the U.N. General Assembly.
As with all politicians, he will enter Letterman’s arena intending to talk up British business, riding the wave of optimism created by the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
However, Cameron’s guest slot on the Letterman show is being eyed with a mixture of caution and bravado in the British press.
Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp.-owned Times described Cameron’s media move as “a high-risk move,” while the Guardian called the plan “brave, if slightly foolhardy” given Letterman’s tendency to ask “awkward” questions.
The conservative party leaders appearance comes after fellow conservative and London Mayor Boris Johnson showed up on the show in June in the run-up to the Summer Olympics. His performance drew laughs when Letterman asked the famously wild-haired mayor how long he had been responsible for cutting his own hair.
Cameron, a former head of communications at Carlton Communications, once part of commercial broadcaster ITV’s network of companies, is certainly media savvy.
But the press here will want to see if Letterman probes the prime minister – light-heartedly or not – on such topics as his high-profile relationships with some of the key names involved in the News Corp. phone hacking scandal.
Earlier this year, Cameron appeared before the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and standards to give evidence on his relationship with Murdoch and his neighbor Rebekah Brooks, the former News of The World editor and News Corp.’s U.K. publishing arm News International’s CEO.
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