The Fox News phenomenon should have been a wake-up call to every TV executive.
The formula couldn’t be more simple.
- Create programming that counters the overwhelming mainstream narrative
- Execute well
- Count the cash
So the same should hold true with late night television. Every comedy showcase, from “The Tonight Show” to “Desus & Mero,” leans reliably to the Left. In most cases it’s Democratic talking points with the occasional punch line.
Why not attempt a right-leaning alternative? Michael Loftus once suggested just that, but the chilly reaction his pitch received explained everything. Show business executives would rather leave all that money piled high on the table than give half the country a voice.
Enter Fox News, again, along with comic provocateur Greg Gutfeld.
The right-leaning outlet unleashed “Gutfeld!” earlier this year. The news-driven comedy show offered exactly what’s missing on late night TV, albeit without A-list stars and broadcast-level cash:
Jokes aimed at progressives.
A few weeks ago “Gutfeld!” rose to the top of the ratings heap. The moment came after President Joe Biden’s Afghanistan debacle, suggesting audiences would rather hear someone snark about it than play defense for the indefensible.
Except a new ratings report shows the “Gutfeld!” effect may be longer lasting.
So much for the Colbert-is-in-repeats memo… https://t.co/iVBIjnB9v1
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) September 14, 2021
The news marks the fourth straight week “Gutfeld!” outpaced his late night peers.
Is it the Fox News effect all over again?
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It’s worth noting that Fox News isn’t all alone in the conservative-leaning news game these days. Newer channels like Real America’s Voice (note: this reporter is a contributor) and Newsmax offer similar takes on the latest headlines.
FAST FACT: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” arguably the angriest, most partisan late night offering, came in a distant 12th place in the late night ratings wars, according to TVNewser. Even worse? The show airs once a week, giving writers more time to write killer punch lines.
Yet no major, or even minor, platform attempted something in the “Gutfeld!” mold. The closest version of a right-leaning alternative comes each week via Adam Yenser’s “The Cancelled News.” The late-night style show, available on YouTube, offers a traditional monologue that doesn’t leave Democratic targets out of the equation.
No virtue signaling, just big laughs.
Will audiences eventually tire of “Gutfeld!” and restore Colbert to his late night throne?
Perhaps. Here’s what’s clear, though.
Consumers finally have a late night alternative, a program willing to call out politicians on both sides of the aisle. And since Netflix, Hulu, ABC and the rest have no interest in telling jokes that might hurt Democrats, there’s a good chance “Gutfeld!” will remain on top for some time.