Buh-bye, David Letterman

Thomas Lifson
Late night television talk shows have become an important part of the national political conversation, a forum for digesting news and personalities of the day. Although their individual audiences number in the single digit millions, the political quips of the hosts are recycled the following day on morning TV, radio talks shows, and the internet. The crucial low information voting bloc, in whose hands the destiny of the Republic now perilously rests, tends to favor late night shows over hard news sources. So even though it is trivial, the retirement of David Letterman, announced last night on his television show (though leaked in advance of the broadcast) matters. A little bit, anyway.

I am glad to see Letterman going. I haven’t watched him in decades, and began to actively dislike the man when his humor turned mean and persecutorial toward conservatives. He can be clever and fast (though he does enjoy a team of writers to help him with those spontaneous clips), and way back when, before he seemed to become convinced that conservatives were an evil that needed eradication, I even laughed at his humor when I saw it.

Because I get up well before dawn, I don’t watch any of the late shows. So Letterman’s passing from the scene means even less to me than to most people. In addition to his political edge, the man had a nasty personal life as well, with a workplace sexual relationship complicating image, and his nasty crack about Sarah Palin’s 14 year old daughter cementing in my mind the notion that he is a bit of a perv.

He is, however, a good businessman, owning his show (like Oprah) and making enough money to put him in the one percent of the one percenters – though Occupy Wall Street never seemed to find him a target. Variety reports on his wealth and corporate power:

Since his start on CBS in 1993, Letterman has owned both “The Late Show” and “The Late Late Show,” which was first hosted by Tom Snyder and then Craig Kilborn prior to Ferguson. He has the contractual right to control the show that follows his at 12:37 p.m., and it is believed that Letterman and his Worldwide Pants production banner may still have some measure of involvement in CBS’ latenight lineup even after his retirement.

Owning his show has given Letterman an unusual degree of control over his destiny at CBS — a welcome change after his unhappy exit from NBC. “The Late Show” has also made him very rich. At one point he was said to have commanded an annual paycheck of about $30 million, though his salary has been downsized some in his last few contracts.

An unseemly scramble to offer blue state tax subsidies to the David Letterman’s production company may already be breaking out. Variety:

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday fired off a letter to CBS’s Les Moonves, urging him to locate his successor’s show in Los Angeles. (snip)

In 2013, as NBC was mulling a successor to Leno, New York Gov, Andrew Cuomo inserted language into his state budget that seemed tailor to win back “The Tonight Show.” The 30% credit was for a show that shoots in front of a studio audience of at least 200 people, had filmed at least five years elsewhere, and had at least $30 million in production costs.

Whether California can match that is another question. (snip)

Some other kind of legislative proposal could be pursued in Sacramento, of course….

Of course. Left wingers love to denounce heartless capitalists while sucking up government favors and subsidies.

Late night television talk shows have become an important part of the national political conversation, a forum for digesting news and personalities of the day. Although their individual audiences number in the single digit millions, the political quips of the hosts are recycled the following day on morning TV, radio talks shows, and the internet. The crucial low information voting bloc, in whose hands the destiny of the Republic now perilously rests, tends to favor late night shows over hard news sources. So even though it is trivial, the retirement of David Letterman, announced last night on his television show (though leaked in advance of the broadcast) matters. A little bit, anyway.

I am glad to see Letterman going. I haven’t watched him in decades, and began to actively dislike the man when his humor turned mean and persecutorial toward conservatives. He can be clever and fast (though he does enjoy a team of writers to help him with those spontaneous clips), and way back when, before he seemed to become convinced that conservatives were an evil that needed eradication, I even laughed at his humor when I saw it.

Because I get up well before dawn, I don’t watch any of the late shows. So Letterman’s passing from the scene means even less to me than to most people. In addition to his political edge, the man had a nasty personal life as well, with a workplace sexual relationship complicating image, and his nasty crack about Sarah Palin’s 14 year old daughter cementing in my mind the notion that he is a bit of a perv.

He is, however, a good businessman, owning his show (like Oprah) and making enough money to put him in the one percent of the one percenters – though Occupy Wall Street never seemed to find him a target. Variety reports on his wealth and corporate power:

Since his start on CBS in 1993, Letterman has owned both “The Late Show” and “The Late Late Show,” which was first hosted by Tom Snyder and then Craig Kilborn prior to Ferguson. He has the contractual right to control the show that follows his at 12:37 p.m., and it is believed that Letterman and his Worldwide Pants production banner may still have some measure of involvement in CBS’ latenight lineup even after his retirement.

Owning his show has given Letterman an unusual degree of control over his destiny at CBS — a welcome change after his unhappy exit from NBC. “The Late Show” has also made him very rich. At one point he was said to have commanded an annual paycheck of about $30 million, though his salary has been downsized some in his last few contracts.

An unseemly scramble to offer blue state tax subsidies to the David Letterman’s production company may already be breaking out. Variety:

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday fired off a letter to CBS’s Les Moonves, urging him to locate his successor’s show in Los Angeles. (snip)

In 2013, as NBC was mulling a successor to Leno, New York Gov, Andrew Cuomo inserted language into his state budget that seemed tailor to win back “The Tonight Show.” The 30% credit was for a show that shoots in front of a studio audience of at least 200 people, had filmed at least five years elsewhere, and had at least $30 million in production costs.

Whether California can match that is another question. (snip)

Some other kind of legislative proposal could be pursued in Sacramento, of course….

Of course. Left wingers love to denounce heartless capitalists while sucking up government favors and subsidies.