While Jay Leno may have been polarizing as a late-night TV host, it’s hard to argue with the success he had on The Tonight Show over time. He was dominant through much of his tenure at NBC, and his audience was more blue-collar and from the heartland than many other shows out there. If there was a late-night talk show predisposed to having a more Republican audience, it was probably Jay’s.
So how would he have covered the Donald Trump Presidency? In a new edition of The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast (promoting Jay Leno’s Garage), Jay made his thoughts on both Trump, and what his coverage of him would have looked like, fairly clear:
“I don’t like Trump, I can’t stand the guy, I don’t like him personally. But the constant negative Trump stuff on a nightly basis? I think it has a debilitating effect on people. People are just, ‘Oh, gosh, I don’t wanna watch TV anymore. This is just the same thing every night.'”
This is an interesting perspective for Jay to have, and we could see it having varying responses where some would feel like this is akin to him taking the easy way out and not wanting to deal with backlash from conservative viewers. Yet, we also do understand the value of trying to shake things up. There is something to be said for variety, but you also don’t want to completely ignore a subject if that is what is dominating the news cycle. This is the difficult trade-off for late-night hosts when it comes to covering Trump. There is such a thing as burnout (which seems to be happening), but when you have an administration that is causing so many headlines, you can’t bury your head in the sand. Plus, there are plenty of people out there who do look to Trump jokes, even if they are tired, as a source of relief from all the anger circulating around and to feel like there are people out there who understand them. They don’t want the new climate to ever feel normal.
Was Leno our favorite late-night host? Far from it, but we appreciate his perspective given that it’s not one that you get from many other venues. Plus, this is still better than Jimmy Fallon patting Trump’s hair to see if it’s real. No body really wants to watch that.
What do you think about Jay’s philosophy on Trump? Be sure to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments. (Photo: NBC.)