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See, I Told You So: Late-Night Comics Protect Obama; Networks Put Politics Before Ratings

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Okay.  I normally wouldn't talk about what I'm gonna talk about next, but I'm gonna talk about it because I have a giant See, I Told You So here, just a huge See, I Told You So.  It's a big See, I Told You So, but it's nothing I alone predicted or came up with.

Jimmy Fallon got The Tonight Show.  Jay Leno was sent packing.  They put Jimmy Fallon in there.  Do you know on his inaugural night he had four million -- no, I don't want to do it that way.  I'm not dumping on Jimmy Fallon.  That's not the point here.  I don't even want to talk about ratings because they don't matter right now, comparing Leno's last show to his first -- even though they did promote the hell out of it.

There's a column by the head writer for Johnny Carson, name is Raymond Siller, and it ran a couple of days ago in USA Today.  He explains in this piece why late night comics just don't hit Obama, why they don't make jokes about Democrats.  Interestingly enough, in my spare time yesterday, I happened to read an interview with Lorne Michaels, who is producing The Tonight Show for Jimmy Fallon. Saturday Night Live tapped Conan O'Brien.  He is Mr. NBC Late Night.  And the person interviewing him asked him why they don't hit Democrats and do much Obama humor. 

This is what he said.  He said (paraphrasing), "Because the Democrats take it personally.  You wouldn't believe the grief we get.  They take all these jokes personally.  Republicans, they just laugh at it.  The Democrats take it personally."  And then he said, "Besides, there isn't anything funny about health care.  There's maybe two jokes in health care, and then what do you do?"  He said there really isn't anything funny about what the Democrats are doing.  And he is one.  He's a registered Independent, but make no mistake.

Now, Raymond Siller was one of the head writers for a time for Johnny Carson, and the headline of his piece is: "Late Night Comics Protect Obama -- This week The Tonight Show with new host Jimmy Fallon returned to its storied birthplace in New York’s 30 Rockefeller Center. Jimmy is talented and likable and closest to my old boss, Johnny Carson, doing characters and sketches. Once again NBC ditched Jay Leno for a trophy comic. This despite Jay’s consistent ratings dominance."

You know, I was talking about this last night in another point in my spare time.  I had a instant message flash going back and forth about ratings and late night and I offered the following opinion to the person I was talking with.  I said, "It's obvious that ratings don't matter anywhere near as much as they used to, otherwise there wouldn't be a CNN.  There would not be an MSNBC if ratings mattered.  They wouldn't exist.  No.  Nobody's watching.  In the universe they are competing, when you've got 75 to a hundred thousand people and you are a national cable news network.  Nobody's watching.  You barely get an asterisk, but there they are.  And MSNBC's got even fewer." 

And I proffered this opinion.  I think we've gotten to the point in not just media, but our culture, I think television executives, management types, programmers, are more influenced by what the media says about a talent or a show than what the ratings are.  I said, "Why'd they get rid of Leno?  His ratings are through the roof.  Why'd they get rid of the guy?  Really."  And Raymond Siller addresses it here. 

"Once again NBC ditched Jay Leno for a trophy comic. This despite Jay’s consistent ratings dominance. NBC hopes Fallon will hold Leno’s audience and not become Conan 2. The current late night landscape is populated by 19 comedy/talk shows. Leno was the Everyman, the flyover fave. He was middle of the road, less ironic than David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel. The Caesar salad to their kale. And the only one willing to launch comedic drones over the current West Wing."

The only one, and he had the highest ratings.  So why did they get rid of him?  Well, what they would tell you is that they dug deep, they drilled way down in those Nielsen numbers, and they began to see erosion in the 18 to 34, and when they see that, the erosion in 25-54 is next, and that means they want to be ahead of it, so we're gonna get rid of Leno before he loses the demo. 

That's exactly what they did to Carson, by the way.  It's portrayed that Carson called his shot and got out, and there may have been some of that, but I remember specifically -- it's one of the things I always wanted to do. I wanted to be on The Tonight Show, and I never made it, I never was invited. I didn't try to get on, but I was studying one night when they decided to get rid of him or when he decided to leave, and that's what they said.  We are beginning to see the erosion of the young demo.  Okay.  Are 18 to 34-year-olds even watching television today?  They're watching Netflix. They're watching their iPads, their iPhones, smartphones, or whatever, or on websites.  The actual number of people that plop themselves down in that demo and watch TV is a diminishing number. 

Now, there are still some young kids that, instead of going to school do it, but, I mean, the kind of demo that the advertisers want, they're not plopping themselves down.  They're on the go, they're watching video on demand.  It's changing and to hold Leno a prisoner to that I thought was curious.  Now, there's another reason why they wanted to get rid of Leno, and it has nothing to do with ratings.  This was my point last night to the guy I was talking to.  So they're gonna put Jimmy Fallon in there.  My point was, as long as the New York entertainment media loves Fallon, he's safe, no matter what the numbers are.  And I think that's a difference. 

Why is CNN still there?  The Democrat Party.  I was just watching CNN, and there's some infobabe up there who used to be one of their reporters.  She was a domestic reporter. Then she did lifestyle stuff. Then they sent her over to Moscow, she was the Moscow bureau chief.  Jill Dougherty is the name.  Now she's at the Kennedy School.  It's an incestuous resolving door.  There aren't any journalists anymore.  They're just Democrats and they're assigned to various places.  "Okay, we're gonna send you over to CNN. We're gonna send you over to NBC. We're gonna send you up to the Kennedy School. You're gonna quit, you're gonna go work for a congressman. When you finish doing that, we're gonna take you back to CBS."  This is how it works. 

Lorne Michaels said this is Jimmy Fallon's last job.  There is no job after this.  This is the job that he retires from.  Well, Jimmy Fallon's, what, 38, that's a long time to make this pronouncement.  I'm just saying, it's a different -- and this may not even matter to you all.  I mean, this is inside baseball stuff to me, because ratings used to be the only thing you, as a performer, talent, whatever, host, you wanted ratings insurance wherever you could get it.  (interruption) Well, I don't even want to bring that up.  But there is a point in time where ratings will again matter.  But right now they don't. 

I find this fascinating, because as a culture now it seems more and more everybody's obsessed with what is said about them and what's thought about them.  You go to social media and everybody's vomiting everything about themselves.  That's why I laugh at people worried about the NSA.  What do you mean?  We don't even need the NSA.  You're telling us everything there is to know about you and then some.  You care more about us knowing who you are than the NSA cares about finding out about you. 

Look at Meet the Press. Meet the Press used to be the only Sunday morning show.  When David Brinkley left ABC's This Week, Russert owned it, CBS did their show.  Now, those shows are done without any regard for ratings, really, 'cause they've got their roster of advertisers that are gonna sponsor 'em no matter what, because of the serious nature of the shows, the news maker, news making aspects.  But Meet the Depressed, folks, is nothing anymore what it was ratings-wise, but it's still there. 

So in the media you're going to see more PR campaigns, you're gonna see more people hiring image making PR firms to craft a public image, and somebody's longevity is gonna be based more on what the media says about them and their show than what their ratings are, because if, for example, if you're Lorne Michaels, if the media loves Fallon, who cares who's watching.  If the media loves him, that means you love Lorne Michaels, 'cause Lorne Michaels picked the guy. That means Lorne Michaels is a brilliant guy regardless what the numbers are.  As long as they've got enough advertisers that'll still pay the freight based on whatever. 

But with Leno, he had the numbers; it didn't matter.  And I'll guarantee you that it was a combination of two things:  their claim that his numbers were starting to erode when they drilled deep down and the fact that he was getting older, and their assumption that there is just no way this guy can stay relevant to young demographics. He's just too old, the chin is too heavy, the chin is just got too much weight dragging the whole host down.  That's the point, Johnny Carson -- but they still forced him out, didn't they?  I still maintain that Carson -- you know, the image, I'm not trying to disrupt the image, I mean, the image is that Carson picked it and chose it and decided when to go, and I don't doubt that he was ready to go, but these are very, very important franchises. 

So now you got Letterman, he's the dean, and there was a New York Daily News story today about all this, and the reporter, "Yeah, Letterman, he's 63, 64, and he looks it," it said.  Anyway, Mr. Siller then continues.  "Leno's competitors haven’t exactly hammered President Barack Obama, hardly a smidgen. The paucity of Obama jokes is the dog that didn’t bark. Like their news anchor counterparts, our hosts go gentle into that late night, despite the target-rich environment of this administration. With his pen and phone, our selfie-absorbed president is one whacked uncle away from appointing himself Supreme Leader."

Remember, this is the head writer, former head writer for Johnny Carson, Raymond Siller.  "It isn’t that they’ve abstained from attacking Democrats. Bill Clinton got savaged during his eight-year run and we can expect torrential yuks if and when Hillary declares. But they’re tongue-tied when it comes to roughing up the present POTUS. The only plausible explanation for their timidity is a fear of being labeled racist. That’s unfortunate. What rankles some Obama critics isn’t the color of his skin. It’s the thinness. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh get under it."

I'm honored to be mentioned in this piece, by the way, by Mr. Siller.  He lives in New York, and he still follows all this stuff.  Johnny Carson, his former head writer.  You ought to read this.  It's at Breitbart now.  They've linked to it at Breitbart.  I thought it was USA Today, but maybe it's Breitbart.  Anyway, it's there.  We'll link to it at RushLimbaugh.com, make it easy for you to find this. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Just so there's no misunderstanding here, I don't know Jimmy Fallon. I haven't met him.  I wish him the best! That is a... It's a great gig, The Tonight Show.  It's a big deal to them that they're moving it back to New York.  I don't think the audience is gonna care. They just want a good show, and I hope it is.  But, you know, we live in such a great flux in our society, and the traditions are going by the wayside.  The Tonight Show is one of them, and there's some people who think, "Ah, there's no way it can survive. 

"It's just gonna be evolved out," and others are saying, "Ah, no, no. This thing is such a franchise, The Tonight Show. No matter what, people are always gonna be wanting to watch comedy at 11:30 at night, at least in the Eastern Time Zone.  But I hope it goes great for Fallon.  I hope it's everything he wants it to be.  I don't know him, I've never met him, but I don't want to be any misunderstanding about any of this. 

I wish him the best like I do everybody that does this when they give it a shot. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Here's Ted in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.  Great to have you on the program, Ted.  Hello.

CALLER:  Dittos from Steeler country, Rush!

RUSH:  Yes, sir! I knew that was Western Pennsylvania.

CALLER:  Yes.  I'd just like to question your assertion. I know you're the all-seeing and all-knowing, but your assertion that ratings don't mean anything anymore to the advertising industry.  I'm retired over 30 years in the publishing business, mostly newspapers, and I got down on my hands and knees looking for good numbers. We were fighting numbers all the time with radio and TV people.  The newspaper industry even went out and did their own surveys to quantify their readership, and if I ever open up MSNBC or take a look CNN, I'm just amazed at who's advertising on there. Why?  Why? I don't understand.  Maybe you can help me with that.

RUSH:  I can totally tell you.

CALLER:  Why would an advertiser spend money there?

RUSH:  I can totally tell you.

CALLER:  Okay.  Tell me.

RUSH:  Fox News needs to be included in this answer.  Fox News has, at any given moment, three to four times the audience of MSNBC and CNN.

CALLER:  I agree.

RUSH:  And that's been the case for years.  But it's only recently that the same advertisers you see on CNN started showing up on Fox.  Fox for the longest time had to rely on all this weird per-inquiry stuff, the Ronco Veg-O-Matics and stuff.  The reason is because the media buyers, predominantly female in the basements-of-these ad agencies, are propping CNN up.  They're all libs. They come out of their university education, they're liberals, they know CNN's a fellow traveler, and they're propping 'em up.  They're buying cost per thousand and sending the money to CNN. 

They're not sending results oriented clients there, 'cause there aren't gonna be any results, but they're sending cost per thousand clients there, and they purposely were leaving Fox out.  This happened to me when this program started, same exact thing, simply because at the time when I started 25 years ago the rub on my program, well, we're controversial, and advertisers don't want to make controversy.  We found that it wasn't executives making decisions.  These media buyers that nobody knew, nobody ever run into, they're in the basements of these businesses.  But I'm here to tell you that CNN is being propped up by ideological fellow travelers at these agencies who know full well what they're doing.

CALLER:  Well, then they have to be lying to their clients.

RUSH:  No. That's not how it's done.

CALLER:  Oh.

RUSH:  I need to define terms.  Cost per thousand.  What they're doing is taking the ad they place on CNN, and it doesn't cost much because there isn't any audience.  They're buying it somewhere else.  They're telling the client, this ad's gonna reach X-number of people with this buy.  CNN, MSNBC.  They're packaging all kinds of different places to reach the audience.  But these ads are just ads that make impressions.  They're not results oriented.  They're not ads that you can measure their success the moment they run.  There's not a phone number to call, there's not a sale on, there's nowhere the consumer goes to buy the product immediately.  Their image or brand type ad that's simply cost per thousand. You're just paying to get your company name, your image or whatever you want in front of as many eyeballs as you can.  It's called cost per thousand.  They don't just buy CNN, maybe buy MSNBC at the same time, and maybe buy a local station in New York or Washington. They'll add that audience up and they'll tell the client, "With this buy we're reaching this many eyeballs."

CALLER:  Oh, okay.  And another comment wanted to make is I appreciate your MSNBC boycott.

RUSH:  (laughing).

CALLER:  Every time somebody opens their mouth and says Chris Matthews or MSNBC, you're talking about 'em, you're giving 'em notice.

RUSH:  Well, it finally hit me that why should I assist that?  That's insanity that's on that network now, literal insanity.

CALLER:  It is.  There's nobody there.

RUSH:  It's gotten to point, why promote it?  You know, why create curiosity tune-in?  So I've banned MSNBC sound bites.  Just very rarely do we suspend the ban.  Now, newspaper advertisements, that's a whole different ball of wax.  There you're talking circulation.  There it does matter.  It really does matter, telling an advertiser how many people in the local community are gonna see the ad.  So what newspapers have done is they've cast themselves as niche.  And they approach advertisers as niche.  I mean, media is so fragmented today.  It used to be three networks and PBS.  Now there's 200 plus or more.  It's a whole different advertising landscape, so a lot of it has become niche. 

A lot of TV networks will target a specific, very small audience, and then try to sell advertisers on the fact that they're getting every eyeball in that audience.  It may only be 150,000.  Syfy network.  I don't know what the numbers are.  Just made it up.  But they're out there telling people, we're getting everybody who loves this, everybody watching here.  So if you want to reach a target-rich environment, disposable income.  And then they price it accordingly, which makes it affordable.  All kinds of ways around this.  But you cannot discount and do not take out of the equation the fact that liberals are everywhere propping each other up, even advertising buyers. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

Now, I got a couple e-mails about this advertising business.  I was running through that pretty quickly.  Let me just explain this cost per thousand thing, 'cause this is all inside baseball.  But people do wonder.  This guy said, well, if CNN doesn't have any audience, how are they getting advertising?  The way it works, and don't doubt me on this.  Liberals are everywhere and they fully understand what it takes to prop up the things they believe in.  They believe in CNN.  CNN is brave and courageous for soldiering on even though nobody watches.  They're sticking with the cause.  They're hammering Republicans.  They're promoting Obama.  They're paying a big price and nobody watches, but we need to keep him on the air. 

Now, you can't go to the ABC Widget Company and say, "I need a million dollars for you to buy a campaign on CNN."  The ABC Widget guy is gonna say, "What?  I'm not throwing my money away.  Nobody's watching."  So what the media buyer will do, will suggest a cost per thousand campaign, which is different from results oriented.  Basically when the commercial runs there's no immediate evidence that it's resulting in higher sales.  Results oriented does.  You know if it's working right then or not.  That's what we do here, in large part. 

So what the media buyer will do in order to save CNN, will take this million dollars, theoretically, and they'll spend some of it at CNN and some of it at MSNBC, and then they'll maybe buy some local show somewhere, and they'll just add up all the eyeballs, and they'll tell the client, "With our brilliant buy, which includes CNN, which is highly prestigious to certain people, we got you on CNN. We got you on MSNBC, and we're gonna reach X-number of peoples, and with this million dollars here's how many people will see your spot." 

And the client says, "Cool."  He doesn't care where the eyeballs are, as long as they are qualified eyeballs, people that might be interested in this product.  Now, some of them are more sophisticated and will probably say, "Look, I don't want you throwing my money away on CNN.  Nobody watching it."  You might also have a manager who loves CNN and will not have a problem with some of these dollars going there.  Folks, it's easily done. 

END TRANSCRIPT

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