It’s a busy day of cultural activism at the NYT. Today, we have “Colbert Rides a Trump Wave, While Fallon Treads Water”, which wags a virtue-signaling finger at Jimmy.
IOW, when Colbert’s ratings were in the toilet, and Fallon’s were sky high, there was silence about this at the NYT. Now that Colbert has received a bump in ratings, it’s time to both celebrate it, promote it, and draw a ‘lesson’ from it.
After Donald J. Trump riffed and ranted his way through a jaw-dropping news conference on Feb. 16, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon both got out their knives.
The difference: Mr. Colbert brought a carving knife, and Mr. Fallon brought a butter knife.
That’s the start.
When Mr. Colbert moved to CBS from Comedy Central a year and a half ago, he was the one struggling to adjust. How could he transition from the scathing political comedy of “The Colbert Report” to broadcast TV, where Mr. Fallon had shown, like Jay Leno before him, that audiences just want to escape after a long day?
Mr. Trump has upended that dynamic the way he has so many others. Since his inauguration, there’s no escape. And there’s surprisingly little ratings evidence that people are looking for one. “Late Show” has begun beating “Tonight” in overall viewers. And it’s Mr. Fallon who’s navigating a suddenly foreign environment.
I now find Colbert unwatchable. The political histrionics are just too much. But the NYT writer makes the subjective assertion that Colbert is actually ‘moderate’ relative to other, more foaming-at-the-mouth ‘comics’:
Mr. Colbert is not, right now, the fiercest of the late-night anti-Trumpists (that’s Samantha Bee), the most depthful (John Oliver) or the most potent (Seth Meyers, whose “A Closer Look” segments are killing). But he has a bigger stage, and he seems to have figured out how to be authentic within that space.
More on Jimmy Fallon’s moral failings:
[Fallon’s] bits have been typical Fallon — goofy, light, full of pop culture references. But right now, they feel the opposite of huge.
Mr. Fallon has seemed to be behind the cultural moment at least since September, when he invited Mr. Trump onto his show to fluff his combover. To Mr. Fallon’s critics, it was “normalizing,” which has become a buzzword for any insufficiently zealous response to Mr. Trump’s presidency.
It’s a pretty accurate word for Mr. Fallon’s approach, though. That’s not to say he has any deliberate plan to soften Mr. Trump’s image…
Rather, the whole spirit of Mr. Fallon’s comedy is that of someone who badly wants things to just be normal again. Guys! Can we all cool off and laugh about the president’s goofy hair? Can’t we just take an hour and chill?…
And isn’t that really the problem? Fallon is just so…. white and WASPy, like a Haven Monahan type of fratboy.
But things aren’t normal. Not even Mr. Trump’s fans — who voted for him to deliver a shock to the system — see it that way. Mr. Trump made his campaign angry, cultural and personal. As president, he has continued to goad his followers into a war of all against all with internal enemies: refugees, the media, any Americans deemed less “real.”…
Mr. Fallon is a talented entertainer and a likable, inclusive party host. But his “Tonight” lives in an American neutral zone that is disintegrating like a desert cliff beneath Wile E. Coyote’s feet.
Got that, Jimmy? There’s a glimmer of hope you, but you’d better get into full #Resist mode or you’ll sink into ‘irrelevancy’!
Very recently, Mr. Fallon’s political material has gotten a bit feistier. After Mr. Trump visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Tuesday, he joked, “Things got awkward at each exhibit when Trump would turn to Ben Carson and say, ‘Friend of yours?’”
But most of “Tonight” is still a retreat from the all-Trump mediasphere. That’s Mr. Fallon being Mr. Fallon, doing the same energetic, upbeat show he’s good at doing. Only now it feels like a plaintive holdover from a distant, more innocent time — like 2015.
The NYT jihad against Trump marches onward.