UPDATE, 7:41 PM: Depending on who you ask, the most sought-after photo op during tonight’s State of the Union address wasn’t with that guy from the Oval Office. It was Duck Dynasty‘s Willie Robertson (and sometime his wife and co-star Korie) that led many lawmakers to bust out their smartphones to post a pic or grab some social media bragging rights. Here are just a couple of examples:
— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) January 28, 2014
— Alan Nunnelee (@RepAlanNunnelee) January 29, 2014
PREVIOUS, 6:55 PM: The arrival of Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson at the House chamber where President Barack Obama is delivering his fifth State of the Union Address tonight caused something of a quandary for those journalists trying to cover the event.
Over at CNN, Jake Tapper was positioned where the Washington glitterati enter the hall, in order to stand and applaud — or to not stand and applaud — at various points during Obama’s speech. After noting some of the Supreme Court justices had just walked by him, and that, in the past, there’d been talk as to whether they should even attend the pep rally, Tapper threw to Dana Bash, up in the gallery. She told Tapper that what she was about to describe was “more surreal and bizarre” than even Supreme Court justices because “what I’m looking at now, Willie Robertson is one –”
“I’m sorry to interrupt a discussion of Duck Dynasty,” Tapper broke in, convincing no one. He’d cut her off because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and VPOTUS Joe Biden were walking by him at that very moment and needed to be seen by viewers nationwide. “But, Dana, sorry, you were talking about one of the stars of Duck Dynasty,” Tapper concluded, like he meant it to sting.
Bash felt compelled to explain to Tapper apologetically, because somebody died and made him king, that she was not talking about Duck Dynasty because she thinks Duck Dynasty is as important as Joe Biden walking by Jake Tapper, but because a “steady stream of congressman” were making their way up the gallery stairs to get in line to have their picture taken with Robertson. “It’s definitely something I’ve not seen in my many years covering this,” Bash said.
(Minutes later, CNN’s Anderson Cooper came to Bash’s defense, wondering out loud when Tapper was “made maitre d’ ” of the State of the Union address. “He’ll be taking drink orders next. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve seen tonight,” Cooper snarked.)
— David Vitter (@DavidVitter) January 28, 2014
— Rep. Steve Stockman (@SteveWorks4You) January 28, 2014
Robertson, CEO of the family’s Duck Commander company, is the guest of Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La. He’s also is the son of family patriarch Phil Robertson, who landed in hot water after giving an interview to GQ in which he waxed headline-hoggingly about gays and blacks. A&E, you’ll recall, suspended him from the show for an indefinite period but unsuspended him pretty quickly in the wake of wrist-slap blowback.
McAllister’s returning a favor the Robertson family did for him last November, when Republicans credited Duck Dynasty with a political upset in Louisiana that wound the political newbie in office, thumping both the Tea Party and the GOP establishment. Now it’s the Robertson family that needs help. Returning to A&E’s lineup after Phil’s fiery GQ interview, Duck Dynasty posted its first year-to-year declines, and, last week, Episode 2 of Season 5 continued the downward trend: The adventures of the Robertson clan drew 6.7 million total viewers, down an eye-opening 21% from the season opener. The 3.6 rating in the adults 25-54 demo was down a less-rough 14% from last week.