Entertainment / Opinion / Politics

The Incredibly Liberal History of Late-Night TV

By Ian Gargan

Late-night television’s influence in America has become so undesirably liberal that shows I once loved are now entirely unwatchable. Between Colbert and Kimmel, there is not a single thought that is not fed to them by left-leaning media outlets. These shows serve up virtue signaling propaganda disguised as entertainment. While both Colbert and Kimmel thrived under Trump (much like our economy) by poking fun at him, they are now facing their lowest ratings ever.

Historically, late-night hosts have been liberal. But they kept their political views at bay so as to not alienate viewers. In the early days of late-night television, Tonight Show host Steve Allen was a trailblazer. He began broadcasting from the Hudson theater, which he jokingly claimed could “sleep 800”, referring to the late-night time slot. Allen pioneered the ‘Man on the Street’ style of interviews.

After Allen’s tenure, Johnny Carson appeared and set the late-night world on fire. Carson never shied away from making jokes about politicians, but he did not pick a side. In a classic 1974 interview, Carson sat with a man known back then as Governor Ronald Reagan. In the interview, he did not discuss their difference in political ideology; they discussed what was best for the American people.

Carson asked Reagan, “How do we solve what’s going wrong in the country?” Reagan answered by saying, “Looking to your government for all the answers was the problem to start. There is nothing government can do more efficiently than the people can do themselves.” He further said, “If government would close the doors and sneak away for about three weeks, we would never miss them.” The audience was stunned, almost silent. Carson replied with “Anyone you had in mind particularly?”

 They went on to discuss an array of topics and political issues that are still relevant today: An expensive war we didn’t belong in, the effectiveness of green vehicles, lowering the federal deficit, and issues with political spending on both sides of the aisle.

In 1984, it was reported that Carson was a factor in Gary Hart’s loss of the Democratic nomination for president. He made several jokes about his alleged womanizing.

 “He [Gary Hart] has a new proposal for a halfway house for girls who won’t go all the way.”

However, Carson always sandwiched these jokes between jokes about then Vice President George H.W. Bush. Carson knew he had nothing to gain and everything to lose by expressing his personal political views. So, he kept things light, rarely allowing his show to become a public forum for political discussion. To this day, Johnny Carson reruns on cable TV and YouTube are still extremely popular.

Following the Carson era were David Letterman and Jay Leno. These competing, left-leaning hosts enjoyed picking on Republicans who were either running for office or already in office, depending on the year. Letterman was the most overtly liberal of the two, consistently poking at the GOP and Conservatives, and once accusing Dick Cheney of not going after Osama Bin Laden because he didn’t want to strain his relationship with Saudi Arabia. He targeted Mitt Romney for his “silver spoon” background, all while Letterman himself was making $30 million a year. Meanwhile Leno, with a stronger religious background, seemed to lean slightly more Conservative as compared to Letterman. But that was just an appearance. Leno was at odds with the Republican party for going too far right on social issues.

The question here is why is the late-night media so liberal? Research shows that it is because the 18-34 age demographic that is most attracted to these time slots tends to be liberal. Or is it because Conservatives need to be up for work in the morning? After all, Conservatives can’t occupy Wall Street for three days and then go home to sleep in our childhood bedrooms!

Fast forward to today’s new – and hopefully long-standing – king of late-night politics, Greg Gutfeld. Gutfeld has stormed the late-night landscape in just a year and demanded the attention of viewers who are less than thrilled with the competition. Gutfeld has been described as “outrageous and outspoken,” which he does not deny. His ability to deliver his hysterical brand of satire about today’s left-wing issues is refreshing. Lighthearted jokes paired with witty punchlines will leave you chuckling long after the show ends. And his “feuds” with Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade are highly entertaining.

Gutfeld’s show performs better than any show on CNN, a channel he enjoys lampooning, specifically anchors Brian Stelter and Don Lemon. Lemon is Gutfeld’s competition in the 11 p.m. slot, receiving only 600,000 viewers in comparison to Gutfeld’s 1.8 million. And while MSNBC dropped in viewership by 24% and CNN dropped 19%, Fox News is up 23%. Joe Biden has done one good thing during his time in office: he’s created more Conservatives!

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9 months ago

Our author seems to have missed Ernie Kovacs and Jack Paar as hosts between Steve Allen and Johnny Carson.

Loved Allen, Kovacs, Paar and the early years of Carson and Letterman (the morning show), Leno was ‘ok’ but, as the article said, had to work early in the morning and I didn’t waste time recording it on my VCR.

  • Allen checked his political views in at the door (wise);
  • Kovacs did too (though he died too early to know if he would have exposed them later);
  • Paar had humor and wit that is painfully lacking in today’s society (having Cliff Arquette as ‘Charlie Weaver’ certainly helped);
  • Carson was good in the earlier years, I was later turned off by his beseeching of going after Raymond Burr’s weight and (more famously) his sordid treatment of Wayne Newton, I can’t watch his programs…;
  • Letterman’s 1980 morning show was a fish out of water, though interesting (having Edwin Newman as NBC News’ morning personality at the bottom of the hour had an ‘Al Borland’ effect);
  • Leno was more palatable, but as I said, my body couldn’t stay up that long without consequences to be paid in the morning.
9 months ago

Love the Gutfeld Show, but can only watch it online because I love overseas, but I never miss one! Never bothered watching Kimmel or Colbert, because I had heard how much both suck so badly. Could not stand Letterman either, but loved Leno. Loved Johnny Carson too, with Ed McMann, grew up with them. Sadly, the Left has ruined everything they have touched, even Latenight! Thank God for Gutfeld!

9 months ago

Letterman, from my evaluation-opinion, was the most Democrat anti-conservative late-night host in the history of TV. A couple of others were more liberal groupies, but they didn’t last long … their liberal bent and anti-conservative bent was so aggressive that it “turned-off” a large portion of the moderate watchers.

Stephen Russell
9 months ago

Best was Johnny Carson & today Gutfeld

Mike B.
9 months ago

I do miss Johnny Carson . A class act, and funny too. We haven’t watched late night shows in years. Carry on Gutfeld .

Joe M
9 months ago

I love the last sentence of this article……I hope it pans out in November !!!

Karen Knowles
9 months ago

The only late night show I ever liked was Johnny Carson. I’ve never watched one since. He was a great host.

Philip Hammersley
9 months ago

Late-night hosts may be so liberal because conservatives have to WORK the next day and cannot sit up watching stale jokes and overpaid “celebrities.”

9 months ago

Now I know why DVR was created.

9 months ago

When Leno left, so did I. Late night MSM is pure leftist propaganda.

David Maddox
9 months ago
Reply to  Granky

You got that right. I did the same.

legally present
9 months ago
Reply to  Granky

Didn’t matter who was on, I was not a person to stay up late at night. EVER

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