Leno out. Seth Meyers in.
This week, NBC announced that when Jay Leno departs late night in 2014 to make way for the eminently unfunny Jimmy Fallon, Fallon will be replaced by the even more unfunny Seth Meyers, had writer of Saturday Night Live. Like Fallon’s new show, Meyers’ will air from New York, leaving Los Angeles in the dust.
Where Leno was evenhanded in his humor, Fallon despises conservatives and lets it be known widely. That’s why he allowed his bandleader, Questlove, to play “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” when Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appeared on the program. That’s why he allowed President Obama to stop by during campaign season to “slow jam” the news – read a stump speech over some percussion.
Meyers, if anything, is even tighter with the Obama administration than Fallon. When he MCed the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011, the entire routine was an ode to the greatness of President Obama. His hardest hitting joke was about Obama’s whitening hair – and ended up being directed at the Tea Party:
May I say [Mrs. Obama], for as beautiful as you looked [in 2008], you look even more beautiful tonight. Now you, on the other hand, Mr. President, have aged a little. What happened to you? When you were sworn in, you looked like the guy from the Old Spice commercials. Now you look like Louis Gossett Sr. I’ve never said this to anyone, but maybe you should start smoking again. If your hair gets any whiter, the Tea Party is going to endorse it.
In an interview with Maureen Dowd, Meyers liked, “Comedy writers are incredibly promiscuous, and we want as many targets as possible.” This is the same Meyers who said, “there’s something funny about a candidate [Mitt Romney] with all these fully grown adult sons. When it comes to an adorable competition, they certainly don’t beat Sasha and Malia.” Meyers’ most famous SNL routine about Obama involved him “getting his mojo back” after the killing of Osama Bin Laden. And in January, he nominated then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for GQ’s “100 hottest women of the 21st century.” He said, “I think somebody who is getting sexier every year is Hillary Clinton. Every year she seems better at whatever she’s doing. By the end of the millennium, she’s gonna have it locked down.”
This was less than three months after Hillary botched the Benghazi terror attack of September 11, 2012, then blamed a YouTube video.
NBC ranks last among the major networks in just about every demographic category. But instead of broadening their appeal by reaching out to Republicans – who still constitute half the nation – NBC has decided to go full-out in its pursuit of young liberals. This isn’t unlike ABC’s strategy back in the early 1970s, when, trailing in every demographic category, ABC tried to pitch advertisers on the proposition that young liberals from big cities were the only audience that mattered. Now NBC is microtargeting rather than broadcasting.
That means there’s an open market for whichever network is willing to mine it. CBS’ late-night lineup is now David Letterman, a wild leftist who hates conservatives with ae fiery passion, and Craig Ferguson, who is a less offensively liberal host. ABC’s late-night guy is Jimmy Kimmel, who is certainly liberal, but who comes closest to imitating the cross-political abilities of Leno.
But overall, there is not a single moderate late-night host on the air. That matters. Americans – particularly older Americans – still want to watch late-night programming. And they don’t want to be smacked in the face with over-the-top politics. NBC doesn’t understand that, and will pay the ratings price for it. The network that realizes that truth will benefit.
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