RUSH: Back to the phones in Topeka. It’s Richard. Welcome, sir. You’re next on the EIB Network. Hi.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush. Rush, I’d like to draw a comparison to the kneeling football players and the late-night talk show hosts.
RUSH: The comedians, the so-called comedians, you mean?
CALLER: So-called comedians. You know, people go to a football game to root for their team and be entertained, not to be subjected to the racial or political viewpoints of the players. And likewise you turn on the TV to be entertained by a late-night show. You don’t do that to constantly hear the host berate the president of the United States. I think it’s time for the American people to do the same thing to the late-night shows as is being done to the NFL: Stop watching and their sponsors will get the message.
RUSH: Well, this is a little different. You know, each media presentation has a different identity, a different audience, different niche —
RUSH: — and most responsible broadcast owners allow that audience to be found, and if it’s large enough and if it’s productive enough, then they’ll allow that audience to be maintained. Now, in the case of the NFL, the audience that they have attracted all these years is being repulsed, is being repelled by what the players in this league are doing. That’s incumbent on the people that own these franchises to stop. It’s their business that is being adversely affected here.
The league has made it plain that they associate with things that are also associated with patriotism: the anthem before every game, giant flags, the national anthem, salutes to the military and so forth. Anything that happens during those productions, i.e., those games, those shows on that stage that is in conflict with what has drawn the crowd — and good football is part of it, too — anything that causes fans to say, “That’s not why I’m here. I don’t want to be preached to about something I don’t even agree with. I don’t hate the cops. And you’re not gonna make me hate the cops. And I don’t care how many times you take a knee, I’m not gonna watch.”
Now, the late night comedians, they are hired by people who want that anti-Trump, anti-Republican, anti-conservative message on their networks. Les Moonves of CBS admitted that he didn’t hire Colbert with ratings in mind. He hired Colbert with buzz in mind. And they’ll find a way to monetize it some other way. He’s got 24 hours a day to balance his network. You know on Friday nights, 9 o’clock, they run Blue Bloods which is as patriotic and straight down the middle virtuous American TV show as you’ll find on the air today, 9 o’clock Central. It’s 10 o’clock Eastern on CBS.
RUSH: I want to go back to the caller’s question ’cause this is actually, for me, as a powerful, influential member of the media — and one of the stellar members of the so-called broadcast community — a fascinating question in terms of the answer being informative. ‘Cause his point was, “Look, if the NFL is having problems because the audience is leaving, why doesn’t the audience just leave the late-night shows which are totally anti-Trump and cause damage there?”
And the answer is interesting. It all has to do with how the NFL built its audience. And what the NFL’s doing now is basically snubbing that audience. And it’s the people playing the game who are snubbing the audience. And the people playing the game have no equity in it. They’ve got nothing at stake. They’re gonna get paid no matter what. They haven’t invested a dime into anything that’s equity or ownership based. They’re employees, highly paid in most cases.
But they’ve got no stake in it. Their average length of time playing is four years. Some of them make it 10, 15 outside. After that, they don’t care. Not their problem. So they think they’ve got the freedom to selfishly pursue things that have nothing to do with the National Football League. They’re trying to take over something they don’t own and use it for political purposes, which is driving the audience away. And it’s up to the league and the owners to deal with that, sadly. Not the government.
Now, Trump can provide the pressure, he can provide the leadership, but the edict should not come from government over how employees behave where they work, except if they’re federal. The late-night TV shows are entirely different. They have not built those audiences are pro-Republican politics, pro-conservative politics. These late-night TV shows freedom were originally comedy shows, and they were — for the most part — during the heyday of Johnny Carson, they were apolitical.
Carson… I know one of the writers of the Johnny Carson show who was in contact with me frequently. He sends me jokes. But he sends them to me after he’s used them, so I can’t. But he makes the point that they purposeful steered away. They didn’t want to offend anybody. They wanted everybody to laugh. Now, some jokes offend people, but they weren’t on a mission to offend and anger any segment of the audience. They wanted the biggest audience they could get, and Carson got it.
Well, those days are long gone.
The modern era of late-night comedy is not comedy, when you get right down to it. It is angry politics. I don’t care if it’s Real Time with Bill Maher or if it’s any other late-night show, those shows are hosted by people who are mad and they are enraged. And if it’s not at Trump, it’s at George W. Bush. Any Republican who’s in power or any conservative anywhere in the media who’s effective will become targets of these shows.
And they have built their audiences expecting that. So their audiences are not going to abandon them unless those hosts abandon the hatred. Those audiences are tuning in for what those hosts are providing. The people that watch Real Time or tune in these late-night shows have a certain expectation that they’re gonna have their anger validated. ‘Cause I submit to you that left-wing comedy today is not funny. It’s rooted in anger and rage — and, if I dare say, hatred — and they’ve built their audiences on that basis.
So you thinking, “Well, I’m not gonna watch”? They’re happy. They not gonna bother them at all. They wish you would watch so that they could offend you, but the fact that you think you’re hurting them by not watching? No. And there are enough people who have the similar amount of rage and hatred to make an audience significant enough that they can break even on these shows. You know, broadcasting’s like any other business.
Every business has its loss leaders. You sell under retail to get people in the store hoping to flip them to more expensive things. Amazon does it on their website. Broadcasting has done it too. The Larry King show, the old Larry King show from midnight to six never had a prayer making any money. There aren’t enough people up. It never had a prayer. But it wasn’t supposed. The Larry King show was to get Mutual News on as many affiliates in the daytime as possible.
And the way it worked was if you wanted to carry the Larry King show midnight to six instead of having to hire your own schlub and pay him, well, you had to carry Mutual News during the daytime to get Larry King. King was a loss leader. There’s all kinds of things. Now, in terms of controversy, CBS every night at 11:30 is full, left-wing anger, enraged hate on parade. But CBS looks at balancing their network not over 12 hours or 24 but rather during the week. And so they…
For every complaint they get about Colbert or whatever, they can point to Blue Bloods which airs at 10 o’clock Eastern on Friday night with Tom Selleck — and if you haven’t watched that show, you should. Everything you believe in, every cultural belief that you have will be validated and celebrated on that program, and you’ll be stunned that a show like that’s on TV. But then for every one of those, there’s another two or three reprobate shows and demented shows and whatever.
But the way CBS and these networks look at balance is over the course of their week, not over the course of one night or even one day. And in that way, they try to service as many people in the audience as possible. Now, there are variations too. If the people running CBS literally hate conservatives, there won’t be much but mockery and attacking of conservatives. And if they can find enough advertisers to support that, then that’s what they’ll do. It all depends on how an audience is built.
The NFL built an audience, and they sought that audience. It’s a specific audience, and that audience is being told to go to hell by the people playing the game. That audience is being mocked and impugned and whatever else. And that audience is responding in kind; they’re not watching. They’re not turning on the TV. They’re not going to games, and they’re not buying some of the advertised products or the memorabilia. It’s why it’s an NFL problem. It’s why I keep saying they misunderstand their audience.
They may even be embarrassed at their audience. They may wish their audience was the same people watching Colbert. They may wish their audience was the same people watching Real Time with Bill Maher. But they aren’t. They have an entirely different audience, and you can tell by who advertises. So it’s up to them to respond to the business challenge presented by the fact that the players are the ones causing the problem. The people who play the game are driving away the people who watch it. No more complicated than that.
It’s a tough thing for them to admit.