Bill O’Reilly and Howard Kurtz could not have looked more like two old fogies tonight as they each decided that the falling poll numbers for President Obama also signal the fall of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report.
O’Reilly introduced the discussion by wondering, “Will these guys change?” He asked Kurtz if it will “get more difficult” for Stewart and Colbert to keep denigrating Republicans and conservatives when Obama and the Democrats “are descending in the court of public opinion?”
Kurtz said, “It’s already gotten a lot more difficult, Bill.” According to Kurtz, Stewart peaked during the Bush administration. He added, “Neither of these guys goes very hard after President Obama. The humor is very gentle when it happens. And that kind of has taken them out of the zeitgeist.”
Fox’s Lauren Ashburn, the other guest, was the lone dissenter. However, in doing so, she just happened to list “all the scandals that have happened under the Obama administration: You have the IRS scandal, the VA scandal, Iraq in chaos and let’s not forget about ObamaCare.” She concluded by saying, “And they went really hard on Obama.”
O’Reilly thought differently. He allowed as how Stewart “will poke” at Obama, but Colbert “very rarely does.” (As a regular watcher, myself, I think O’Reilly's assessment is accurate.)
O’Reilly continued by taking a swipe at the Daily Show/Colbert Report “core audience”: “They smoke a little pot, OK? They drink a little wine… and then at 11 o’clock, they’re a little mellow and they put ‘em on. That’s what happens.”
Ashburn said it doesn’t matter if the audience is high, “They still count in the ratings.”
But O’Reilly seemed to think it’s only a matter of time until the audience tunes out - apparently because the days of successfully ridiculing the right are numbered. “The point is,” he said, “the core wants to hear that O’Reilly and other traditionalists and all the Republican politicians are bad, Howard. And if they don’t hear that, they may not watch.”
Kurtz complained that when he watched The Daily Show “do the IRS scandal” recently, “Jon Stewart was going on and on about how incompetent the IRS was but nothing about a cover up, he glossed over President Obama’s role and I just think when you take half the targets off the field… you’re just a little bit out of step because the story right now is the Obama administration.”
Well, that’s true if you think that there was a cover up and that President Obama played a role in the IRS mess. But so far, no proof has been found on either score. But nobody pointed that out, even though Kurtz and Ashburn are supposed to be media experts. So who’s really out of step?
O’Reilly said he’d give Ashburn the last word. But not before telling her “Listen, Lauren, here’s the reality of the situation. If you don’t please your core audience, you lose some of it, alright? And that’s the fact. So they’re gonna have a harder time pleasing them with the disintegration of the liberal establishment.”
Neither Kurtz nor Ashburn challenged the assertion that "the liberal establishment" is disintegrating. However, Ashburn did make the point, “But they are pleasing their young audience by attacking conservatives who are attacking the Obama administration."
O’Reilly complained, “It sounds hollow.”
Ashburn added, “Let’s put it in perspective. ...Their ratings… are higher than any show on CNN or MSNBC.”
This sounded to me like a whole lot of wishful thinking on the part of O’Reilly and Kurtz. To borrow from Mark Twain, I suspect that these reports of Stewart’s and Colbert’s comedy deaths are greatly exaggerated.
Besides, the Daily Show makes fun of everything. They make fun of CNN almost as much as they make fun of Fox News, and MSNBC is hardly immune. If anything, his audience will grow if he goes to just insulting the non-fox, because they’ll come when they hear their guys are no longer in the joke.
We also predicted the demise of Billy’s marriage. After the Andrea explosive scandal, it was a matter of time before divorce papers were served.
Now that Billy has reached retirement age, we predict the demise of Billy’s career at Fox “News.” The suits are tired of his rants, whines and complaints. The sooner he leaves, the better.
NOTE TO BILLY
Certain people at this “news” network don’t like you. Imagine what they say about you behind closed doors.