When David Letterman said that 2015 will be his last year hosting his long-running CBS late-night TV show, it wasn’t just the end of Stupid Pet Tricks and the other bits that his fans have come to love. It was the end of an era.
With Mr. Letterman’s pending retirement and Jay Leno’s recent departure from NBC’s The Tonight Show, late-night TV is reflecting a realignment of viewer tastes. Jimmy Fallon, who inherited Mr. Leno’s coveted slot, has continued his predecessor’s dominance in the ratings. Every network wants a versatile performer in that hour.
CBS will replace Mr. Letterman with Comedy Central’s bombastic faux conservative blowhard, Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report. Like Mr. Fallon, Mr. Colbert is a natural performer who will bring fresh energy and possibility to a show that has grown stale.
Mr. Colbert will abandon the popular character he’s played for nearly a decade. Late-night viewers will finally meet the “real” Stephen Colbert.
Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh fumed that a “fake” conservative will get the prestigious spot, instead of a real right-of-center comedian such as Greg Gutfeld or Dennis Miller. Mr. Limbaugh called the choice of Mr. Colbert an “attack on the heartland.” Right-wingers on social media have also been harsh.
But if Mr. Limbaugh et al. are looking for true diversity, they’ve missed the boat. When will someone other than a white male be hired for a daily, late-night network slot? Tina Fey? Ellen DeGeneres? Now that would be real choice.