The Late Show host Stephen Colbert asked about more than aliens during his high-profile interview with former president Barack Obama. He also got in a pressing question about a country music legend: Why hasn't Dolly Parton been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom?
In short, Obama assumed that if Parton's been eligible over the years for a major award, it already resides in her trophy case.
"Actually, that was a screwup," Obama says in the interview, which aired on Nov. 30, 2020. "I'm surprised. I think I assumed that she had already gotten one, and that was incorrect."
Obama added that Parton deserves the honor, so he'll "call Biden" to make sure this wrong from his time in the White House gets righted.
Medal of Freedom recipients during Obama's eight years as the president of the United States included musical artists James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Emilio and Gloria Estefan. Donald Trump must've looked to his CD collection before handing out the highest civilian honor, as well, as he awarded it to Elvis Presley.
Per the White House website, the Medal of Freedom is bestowed by the President of the United States "to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Beyond Grammy awards and other music industry honors, Parton's been awarded a National Medal of Arts (2005 and a Kennedy Center Honor (2006). Based on her contributions to research for a COVID-19 vaccine alone, Parton makes sense for president-elect Joe Biden's first round of Medal of Freedom honorees.
Obama's late night appearance on CBS promoted his memoir, The Promised Land.