The Times Asks: “Is There a Future for Late-Night Talk Shows?” Ethics Alarms Asks: “Is There A Future For News Media That Has Been Made This Stupid By Bias?”

The New York Times John Koblin and apply all of their skill and experience to examine the apparent phenomenon of late night talk shows facing massive changes, and perhaps even extinction. “[A]s streaming has ascended, and network TV audiences and advertising revenue has dwindled, worries that late-night shows could be the latest genre affected by sweeping change are hitting virtually every corner of the entertainment world,” they write.

What’s going on here? Well, these career-long TV analysts conclude,  viewers no longer have a “deep bond” to single late night hosts. Ratings have been sinking because of streaming, and so many alternative options for late night viewing. The cost to produce some late-night shows”is no longer feasible in an era of sinking ratings.”Late-night shows have also struggled to make the transition to streaming video, another consideration weighing on executives,” we are told, in part because “the topical opening monologue, a staple of the genre, has virtually no shelf life in streaming libraries.” Current  late-night network hosts “don’t seem to want a lifetime appointment” unlike their predecessors like Johnny Carson, jay Leno and Letterman. “I think the Carson playbook of 40 years talking to celebrities is probably a thing of the past,” a former late night producer told the Times.

Is that it? I guess so: this long examination of factors and trens couldn’t find any other reason for the genre’s decline.

Funny…the reason I haven’t watched a late night talk show in almost eight years must be unusual: these media reporters don’t detect it. Funnier still, a substantial percentage of the readers who commented on the story seem to see the main reason for the rejection of such talks shows—the same reason I have—very clearly.

A sampling:

  • “…Colbert killed it. Not just killed it…but tortured it and made sure it died painfully and embarrassingly. A hundred years from now, history books will record the horror, brutality, and longevity that Colbert levied on the format. It will be his legacy.  The complete annihilation of a wonderful and entertaining art form by the grotesque and egomaniacal actions of a self-confessed comedian…”
  • “‘Is There a Future for Late-Night Talk Shows?’ If these shows allow themselves to become part of the leftists political apparatus, and come across as mere shills for the Democratic Party, then the answer is a resounding no.”
  • “The article doesn’t mention the elephant in the room – almost all the late night talk show hosts are rabid Democrats, as are their viewers.”
  • “Pretty much every host mentioned in this article except Greg Gutfeld is and has performed as a liberal political commentator. They wear their politics on their sleeves and their monologues and humor are rife with it. …Even worse, these left-leaning hosts too often forget to be funny. They are strident and predictable. Strident isn’t funny and predictable is boring.”
  • “They have lost me for ever unless they learn what being funny means, and are ready to offend both political sides equally”
  • “Also consider the political divide. Late night shows have come down on one side of the Democratic side of the aisle, which disenfranchises GOP watchers…”
  • …and many more in the same vein.

I don’t care about what happens to late night talk shows, but the Times’ handling of the question is significant and telling. Neither the paper’s “experts” nor its editors even detected that “elephant in the room” that so many members of the public (and its own readers) could see so clearly because it really is a metaphorical elephant. Bias makes you stupid, being stupid makes you incompetent, and being incompetent makes you untrustworthy.

That is what this episode tells us about the future of American journalism.

9 thoughts on “The Times Asks: “Is There a Future for Late-Night Talk Shows?” Ethics Alarms Asks: “Is There A Future For News Media That Has Been Made This Stupid By Bias?”

  1. I don’t really expect comedians to be neutral and objective. They’re not journalists, they’re not educators, they’re not “experts”. What I do expect is that they be funny. I will not tolerate unfunny jokes because they gore the correct sacred cow, nor will I pretend that worn-out retreads are fresh and new. And while I don’t expect comics to be politically neutral, when they deliberately step around a comedic goldmine so as not to offend political sensibilities (including their own), you can bet I will make note of their cowardice.

  2. From a fellow by the name a Jared Dillian:
    “The conventional wisdom on the election (I just heard Chuck Todd say it on NBC News) is that the election was primarily about economic issues—our manufacturing base being hollowed out, jobs lost overseas, which stoked nativist sentiment, stuff like that.

    But I don’t think it was that at all. I think we owe these election results to a cultural phenomenon. People don’t like being called rednecks, racists, hicks, slow, homophobic, transphobic, dumb, unsophisticated, Cracker Barrel patrons—even if it’s true. If you really want to know why Hillary Clinton lost the election, look no further:
    Six reasons Hillary Clinton lost:
    • Jon Stewart
    • Stephen Colbert
    • Samantha Bix ee
    • Trevor Noah
    • Seth Meyers
    • John Oliver
    Night after night of this superiority and disdain led us to President Donald Trump. I’ll be the first to argue with flyover country over the merits of free trade, but I’ll do it in a respectful fashion. You take a giant dump on people night after night, this is what happens.”

    • I am not sure that late entertainment lost the election for Hillary. It was the simple fact that she is, and always has been, an awful human being and an even worse candidate. Her “half a basket full of deplorables” was a telling moment for the 2016 campaign — it demonstrated how she, and most likely her Democrat cohorts, feel/felt about the citizens of this country. She spat on them with seething contempt, but people get tired of being spat upon. Along comes Donald Trump who, like him or not, had a much better feel on the nation’s pulse and keyed into the “deplorables'” sense of alienation and disenfranchisement (yeah, I wrote that – it has been a DNC staple for decades that middle America is a bunch yokels with no real grasp of the important things in life, who are bitter gun and religion clingers as so eloquently stated St. Barack) from our political betters. He seemed to be talking to them, sharing and understanding their difficulties. He also didn’t take them for granted and made them laugh and feel good about themselves. His Twitter page also allowed his supporters direct contact with him and his campaign. That is why he won and that is why he terrifies the power structure – call it deep state, vested bureaucracy, what-have-you.

      Late night comedy is not dead, as Guttfeld clearly shows. It’s just that wholly partisan hacks like Colbert, et al, have lost their audiences. SNL suffers from the same malady. The echo chamber can only last so long before the echo fades to nothing.

      I suspect that many people, liberal, conservatives or right of center thinkers and others (mine own self included) do not watch them because their job is to entertain and they aren’t entertaining. For instance, I went to Rush shows to watch my favorite power trio deliver an awesome show with incredible visuals and lights and boggle my mind with soul-stretching musicianship. Rush, though liberals all, kept politics off the stage. Likewise, I go to an AC/DC show to hear my favorite songs and watch Angus Young bound around the stage like a Tasmanian Devil with a Gibson SG. I don’t go to an AC/DC show to hear politics. They leave their politics in the dressing room and simply blow the roof off the venue. Late night talk shows should take notice. They have rendered themselves irrelevant.


      • I’ve been thinking about the stereotype of “the flyover states”, and the “yokels” that live there. It’s true that, once upon a time, if you wanted to expand your mental horizons, you almost had to get to the big cities. The big cities were where people from far away would converge for the purpose of trade, bringing with them new and different perspectives. The big cities were also where universities would be, where you would therefore find experts on any given subjects, together with larger and more comprehensive libraries.

        But things have changed since then. Today, a farmer in Knob Lick, Missouri carries the same kind of portable computer in his pocket that a NYC grad student does, giving access to the same worldwide network containing the collective knowledge of humanity, and instantly connecting both to people around the world. The problem has long since ceased to be getting access to information, or access to different perspectives. The information is now coming out of a firehose.

        No, the question now is how that torrent of information gets assimilated. It’s not about whether you can access alternative viewpoints, it’s about how easily you can block them out. Out in the heartland, we can’t block out the viewpoint of the wealthy, liberal, coastal elite. Our television news is produced from those big cities. New York dominates publishing. Los Angeles dominates entertainment media. Advertisement is split between the two. San Francisco dominates the Big Tech companies that control everything from search engines to social media to web hosting, unless you count the ones based out of Seattle. And of course the big national political decisions are going on in Washington DC. It’s practically impossible for us to filter them out.

        On the other hand, I’ve often found myself amazed by just how parochial some liberal coastal city dwellers can be. The New Yorker famously satirized this in their cover “View of the World from 9th Avenue”… in 1976! It’s gotten an order of magnitude worse since then. published a widely-mocked piece in which A New Yorker Discovers it regularly gets above 70 degrees in Chicago during the summer. The New York Times is somewhat famous for occasionally having their journalists go on safari to some Waffle House in Tennessee as if it were an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon.

        Suffice it to say, the ignorant yokels no longer seem to live where it’s always been assumed.

  3. Merely coincidence, I’m sure, that their analysis comes just as Gutfeld! has displaced Colbert as having the highest ratings. The same sort of coincidence that had Trevor Noah with his highest ratings in the first couple of years of Trump’s candidacy & term, and dropping like a rock to the bottom of the heap now, I suppose.

    I wish Craig Ferguson had come back, but he has stated he’s no longer interested in doing any such gigs.

  4. Jay Leno has kept his political leanings private his whole career, and once said tongue in cheek that he wanted to make sure that he got hate mail from both sides. He said that making fun of only one side means you lose 1/2 your audience. We need more like him in the late night TV space.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.