Thursday, September 16, 2004

Letterman Gets Kerry, Leno Gets Worried

Not a good sign for George W. when even Jay Leno, well-known moderate conservative, distances himself from the Republican party and the Bush/Cheney re-election effort. And it's even more telling that Mr. Leno realizes how important his political views are to his audience.

It's been thoroughly reported that the most influential "news" reporters of this campaign are the late night comedians....Jay Leno, David Letterman and especially Jon Stewart. I believe that's true for several reasons. First, ask most 21 year olds where they get the news. The common answer? Stewart's The Daily Show, and often, David Letterman (CBS) followed with a chaser of Conan O'Brien (NBC). They're tuning out Leno, and Craig Kilborn, Conan's CBS competitor, recently quit.

And then it was announced yesterday that John Kerry has chosen David Letterman's show, not Jay Leno's talkfest, to make a key appearance this Monday evening, Sept 20.

Another reason for late night comedy as prime new source? Big time CNN/CBS/NBC/ABC news is's endlessly infatuated with the nuances of political sheningans...and most important, it's thrown all common sense and decency out the window.

Most national newscasters will repeat any inane statement, any obviously incorrect and outright silly claim, any manipulative press release or "leaked" scoop, for ratings and to be the first with the "facts." And incredibly, they do all this with a straight face. With a few exceptions (Dan Rather of CBS, Chris Matthews of MSNBC, often Aaron Brown of CNN), the news media have become neutered lap dogs for the President and his fear-mongering circle. Several times this political season, CNN has leaked a White House "scoop" only to be later embarrasssed when the "facts" were inaccurate. CNN got used like a common streetwalker.

Dan Rather...look at the hell he's taking for investigating info before rotely repeating the dictated, unsupported "facts." And Chris Matthews got insulted and challenged to a honest-to-God duel by a cranky scary old man, Senator Zell Miller, who is unused to being asked probing questions by reporters.

A prime example of biased, boring political lapdog reporting is not-so-closeted Republican Judy Woodruff of CNN's Inside Politics. She is clearly CNN's stealth response to Fox' huge ratings success with conservatives. She drones on endlessly about irrelevant political details. She is singularly responsible for bringing up the Swift Boat for Truth charges over and over and over ad naseum, long after the charges were proved false, sick and dead. Her actual words about Kerry on the maligning of his combat patriotism? "John Kerry didn't handle the Swift Boat charges well." A conservative-tinged, pro-Bush political answer that had nothing to do with truth, common sense, morality or substance. Candy Crowley is far more competent that Ms. Woodruff, but possesses less of a "TVQ" appearance, and holds little appeal for the Fox News conservative crowd.

Jon Stewart, David Letterman and Conan O'Brien tell the truth. Their words have the ring of authenticity and all-American common sense. They call it like it is, and like we know it is. And truth often hurts , so they make us laugh. We laugh, we laugh hard, because they help us realize the ridiculousness of it all, they put the obvious into words, and they bring us much-needed tension relief.

So Jay Leno, known opinion-silent middle-of-the-roader, close friend of Republican California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is worried. He's losing his audience and he lost the ratings-bonanza Kerry guest appearance, so he gave an interview this week to LA Weekly newspaper.

"Jay Leno says, 'I'm not conservative. I've never voted that way in my life.' He believes 'the wool was pulled over our eyes' with the Iraq war. He thinks the White House began using terrorism 'as a crutch.' after 9/11. He feels that during the campaign, Kerry should 'make Bush look as stupid as possible.' He believes 'the media is in the pocket of the government, and they don't do their job' so 'you have to have people like Michael Moore who do it for them.' He (currently) has on his joke-writing staff a number of former professional speechwriters for Democratic candidates. 'No Republicans.' "

Not a good sign for George W. Not for national broadcast news, either.

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