Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central’s resident faux-conservative mock news pundit, will be taking over hosting duties of The Late Show when David Letterman steps down sometime next year, CBS made official today.
Given the nature of Colbert’s immensely popular satire news program The Colbert Report, which has aired on Comedy Central since 2005, it seemed likely that the announcement that he signed a five-year deal as the new host of The Late Show would draw lively commentary from the online, and offline, conservative crowds that do not appreciate Colbert’s brand of humor, the sort of humor which is typically at the expense of said conservative crowds.
Conservative media behemoth Rush Limbaugh spoke of his disapproval of the selection on his nationally syndicated radio show shortly after news of Stephen Colbert’s hiring went public:
“CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America. No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservatives, now it’s just wide out in the open. What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny and a redefinition of what is comedy.”
Colbert stepping into Letterman’s shoes brought out mixed responses in the Twitter-sphere. While a majority of relative tweets are positive of the choice, congratulatory of Colbert, and are typically from the liberal-leaning side of Twitter, the tweets that are more negative towards the news are pretty clear about their personal political persuasions.
CBS Replaces One Liberal Comic (Letterman) with Another (Colbert):… http://t.co/7FwB43BDvv
— Concerned Citizen (@conservfeed) April 10, 2014
Colbert’s groveling fans and some other White Liberals #onhere prove to be human garbage.
— Peter (@NewEnglandite) April 10, 2014
“CBS takes a huge gamble w someone as politically polarizing as Colbert, you start in a huge hole. As in…half-the-country-may-dismiss-you”
— slone (@slone) April 10, 2014
This isn’t the first time Stephen Colbert has been the subject Twitter-based ire, as recently the hashtag #CancelColbert exploded after a misrepresented quote from one of his shows attracted accusations of racism when it was tweeted from the official Colbert Report twitter account (which Colbert has since shut down, directing fans to his personal Twitter instead).
Would CBS & The Late Show survive a conservative boycott over Stephen Colbert?
In 2011, Entertainment Weekly referenced an annual research study prepared exclusively for them by Experian-Simmons that “measures the consumer preferences of various political ideologies”. The report show that when it came to the Big Two of late night television, Letterman and Jay Leno, Liberals/Democrats tended to favor Letterman (as well as Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central cohort Jon Stewart) while Conservative/Republicans were more typically fans of Leno.
While some conservative fans of Letterman’s may tune out due to a distaste of Stephen Colbert’s character “Stephen Colbert” on The Colbert Report, The Late Show‘s largely liberal fan-base, coupled with the bump in viewership Colbert is likely to bring when fans of his who don’t typically watch CBS during that time slot decide to tune in to check out his new gig, it’s unlikely any sort of conservative backlash or outright boycott would have any serious or long-standing repercussions.
One can easily see how conservative-based boycotts of Subway, for partnering with Michelle Obama in a campaign for healthier food options for children, and Coca-Cola, for running a Super Bowl ad featuring “America the Beautiful” sung in different languages, did little to affect either company. The Late Show is as an established of a brand as either Subway or Coca-Cola, and that weight alone, coupled with Stephen Colbert’s ever-growing popularity, will anchor this choice as one of the best CBS has made in some time.
Stephen Colbert is going to be the new host of The Late Show. What are your thoughts?