Why Jay Leno is trouncing David Letterman in late-night television wars

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  • Jimnotjimmy Palatine, IL
    June 15, 2013 10:30 p.m.

    Leno has been beating Letterman in ratings for the vast majority of the last twenty years. One reason might be his more even handed treatment of politicians. Remember all of the Mitt Romney jokes? I agree that always showing one's political biases makes for boring television. Like him or not; another reason for his popularity is that for many of us Jay's show has the best balance and is the most entertaining. I wonder if the author remembers that the Leno/O'Brien fiasco started when Conan made it known through his agent back in 2004; that he would sign a new contract "if" he was promised Leno's job in 2009.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    June 14, 2013 5:57 p.m.

    I prefer Leno b'c he seems somewhat conservative and yet not so obviously as Letterman is Democrat. I recall when Letterman used to rather difficult to pin down politically, and I think he was more popular in consequence.

    It is hard to be generally regarded as funny when you make political jokes that always seem to favor one side, or ridicule the other, so plainly; you have to make conservatives and liberals laugh together to enjoy wide appeal. I prefer that Scottish guy (what's his name? the one with the puppets) because he is funnier than both of them imo.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    June 14, 2013 10:39 a.m.

    Frankly, I have no idea why Leno is beating Letterman in the ratings, unless people like Leno's preference for living "in the gutter" as Wanderer posted.

    But I think Jim Bennett is simply wrong when he writes that Letterman has an obligation to be an "equal-opportunity offender" when it comes to presidents. The fact is, some presidents are funnier than others and tend to do stupid things. Yes, Letterman has been easy on Obama, but he ridiculed Bill Clinton (a Democrat) almost as much as George W. Bush. Let's face it, presidents like George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama just aren't all that funny.

    And if you think Letterman has stopped poking fun at Democrats, that will surely come as a big surprise to Anthony Weiner, Barney Frank and Eliot Spitzer.

    BTW, on a slightly different topic, when journalists can tell that one politician is a partisan, incompetent hack while another tries honestly to do what's best for the country, they shouldn't be "equal opportunity" in their coverage. But that's a discussion for another day.

  • Wanderer West Jordan, UT
    June 14, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    Neither late-night host earns high marks but I do agree that Leno plays the field more evenly than Letterman and generates viewership. Here's a couple of reasons why:
    1. Letterman's humor is definately "junior high" in concept and execution. Can't figure why he takes the amateurish approach to humor when he clearly excels in interviewing skills.
    2. He was so one-sided and biased in the recent elections it was embarrassing. I would think that Romney's advisors could have made the case that Letterman's constant distortion of facts and arguments easily polarized the nation.
    Leno doesn't deserve great respect either. He tends to live in the gutter much too often.