New Wingnut Meme: Leno Was Let Go For Making Too Many Obama Jokes
Today Breitbart’s “Big Hollywood” section has an opinion piece from “Johnny Carson’s head writer”, Raymond Siller. Amidst polemical nonsense like:
With his pen and phone, our selfie-absorbed president is one whacked uncle away from appointing himself Supreme Leader.
Siller asserts that Leno was the only comedian on late night television “willing to launch comedic drones over the current West Wing.” Siller himself doesn’t go there, but the wingnut rank and file have for weeks been making the case that NBC let Leno go for this very reason.
There are a couple of things to point out here. First of all, Breitbart only identifies Siller as “the longtime head writer on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” In doing so, they are shortchanging Siller’s long resume. Per Wikipedia (and heavily footnoted) Siller became a consultant for both President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew in 1970. He went on to consult and write for a long list of Republicans including Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush as well as Governors George Deukmejian and Nelson Rockefeller. He has also contributed to The Washington Times.
Secondly, Siller states:
Carson felt his mission was to entertain, not proselytize. It may have been Johnny’s Midwest roots that considered any mention of politics or religion impolite. It also made business sense not to offend a large chunk of his viewers.
However, he ignores the business sense of NBC’s move completely. Even though Leno is reputed to have taken a pay cut in 2012, going from approximately $25 million, to $20 million per year, that still averages in excess of $80,000 for every single show. When you consider the the audience for The Tonight Show is both shrinking and aging, it is nothing but good business to bring in Fallon for 40-60% less salary while attracting an audience young enough to please advertisers not attempting to sell catheters or reverse mortgages.