“It may not be good for America, but it’s good for CBS,” the network’s centimillionaire boss Leslie Moonves declared last year about Trump’s run for the presidency. Fast forward more than a year and CBS — supposedly the network of middle America — has declared an open war against the leader of the free world.
The feud between the president and CBS erupted this past weekend after Trump dismissed one of the network’s hosts from the Oval Office, sparking a vulgar 12-minute rant by late-night host Stephen Colbert, sending social media into overdrive with calls for Colbert’s head.
“The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c–k holster!” Colbert said on Monday during “The Late Show” opening monologue.
The latest outburst by Colbert is neither surprising nor accidental and is the result of the network’s calculated decision to import the left wing politics of its famously liberal news division into the late night “daypart”. By doing so, CBS seized the opportunity to cash in on increasingly popular anti-Trump comedy, while Colbert’s main competitor, NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, sleepwalked into second place with his vapidly happy routines.
Yes, it’s apparently paying off – CBS’ Late Show recently shocked the TV world by passing Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight in total viewers, on average by 400,000 more.
Before CBS’s hard turn to the left, Colbert had struggled to get a footing as David Letterman’s successor, so much so that his job security was in doubt. He had toned down the lefty rhetoric he espoused on Comedy Central in an effort to appeal to CBS’ famously conservative viewers, and it wasn’t working. Colbert was losing badly to Fallon week after week.
So the show brought over a CBS News producer named Chris Licht — a man who spent years learning liberal TV at MSNBC — to take over as the lead producer of Late Night.
Licht, who during the 2016 campaign publicly said he wouldn’t allow Trump to do CBS This Morning interviews by phone, has fulsomely taken credit for increasing the ratings of the late-night show, recalling a turning point when during the election night he told Colbert to “stop being funny and go and just be real” as the results were starting to come in, signaling Trump’s victory.
The “be real” moment naturally turned Licht’s new version of Late Night into a crusade against Trump. After all, Colbert has never hidden his liberal views and built his career by mocking the worst aspects of conservative punditry on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.
His virulent anti-Trump stance inevitably led to the now-infamous 12-minute rant against Trump, which many say went too far.
Colbert’s disastrous harangue restarts the war between the Republicans and CBS that raged in past decades. Jesse Helms, a former Republican Senator, famously ran a campaign in the 1980s urging conservatives to buy the network’s stock, ending its “anti-Reagan” bias by becoming “Dan Rather’s [the liberal former CBS Evening News anchor] boss.”
The conservative fightback against CBS continued in the 1988, when George HW Bush turned his presidential campaign around, earning praise and was deemed “tough”, after he confronted Rather during an interview and brought up how the anchor once walked off the air.
”I want to talk about why I want to be President,” Bush told Rather during the interview. ”It’s not fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?”
Many voters, frustrated with the network’s liberal programming, started putting “Rather Biased” bumper stickers on their cars.
The reality is: CBS hasn’t changed its liberal bias over the years. The latest Colbert tantrum is in the “proud” tradition of fighting against Republican politicians. It’s good for the ratings, so it’s good for the network.