Archive for January, 2010

Conan O’Brien Is the Villain

January 25, 2010

Conan O’Brien is the real villain in the “Tonight Show” controversy, contrary to the claims of his supporters. Several years ago O’Brien bamboozled NBC into taking the “Tonight Show” away from Jay Leno and giving it to him in spite of the fact that Leno had been leading his time slot for years. That’s the equivalent of benching Bret Favre to play a quarterback who has never made the playoffs.

Shortly before the transition from Leno to O’Brien someone at NBC figured out Leno was one of the few at the network who could actually win his time slot. To keep him, NBC decided to put him on in prime time even though variety shows, except for contest shows like “American Idol”, hadn’t worked in prime time for years.

The gamble didn’t work. NBC lost viewers in both time slots and local affiliates complained because they were losing viewers.

Late local news programs are often considered relatively equivalent by viewers. Many viewers will watch whichever news program comes on after the prime time program they watched or before the late program they want to watch, particularly considering that there may not be any commercials between the end of one program and the start of the next. Many of those viewers who switched to David Letterman for late night viewing may have switched news programs as well.

Conan O’Brien complained because he had “only” seven months to show what he could do with the “Tonight Show”. He ignored the fact that prime time television shows are typically only given about seven months to convince a network to give the show another season. Jay Leno would have been justified in protesting his removal from the “Tonight Show” because he was dominating the time slot at the time. O’Brien has nothing to complain about because he failed to match Leno’s success.

Unlike the previous two Tonight Show hosts, O’Brien had been doing a similar show for several years. Johnny Carson had been doing a game show when he was given the job. Jay Leno had guest hosted the Tonight Show, but had never had a show of his own.

O’Brien’s failure to match Leno’s audience indicates he wasn’t ready for that time slot. He should not have been surprised that NBC wanted him to move back and let Leno take over the first 30 minutes after the local news..

NBC has recognized that Leno is more valuable to the network than O’Brien and is doing what it should have done years ago, let O’Brien go somewhere else.

CBS’s David Letterman and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel have sided with O’Brien for obvious reasons. The last thing they want is to have to compete with Leno again.

For example, Letterman, who hasn’t been paying attention, on his Jan. 19 program suggested that Leno should have just left NBC. The people at NBC have learned something since Letterman left. They had Leno under contract to prevent him from doing that. They gave him the prime time show to keep him from attempting to go to another network like Fox.

Leno essentially threatened to go to Fox in his monologue after NBC canceled his prime time show. NBC recognized that letting Leno go elsewhere would hurt their ratings and decided to put him back in at least part of his old time slot to keep him at NBC. O’Brien issued the ultimatum, essentially saying the network wasn’t big enough for him and Leno and NBC said “okay, you leave.”

NBC is so thrilled to have Leno back on the Tonight Show it started advertising the Jay Leno Tonight Show before Conan O’Brien’s final performance. NBC is the big winner in this fight. It replaced two rating losers with at least one rating winner the Jay Leno Tonight Show. O’Brien with his $32 million settlement can hardly be described as a loser, although with his record at NBC he probably won’t get another major network program in the near future.

CBS’s David Letterman and ABC are the likely losers. Leno has already demonstrated he can dominate the first hour of late night. Whatever programs NBC replaces Leno’s prime time program with are likely to draw parts of the audience from the CBS and ABC programs in that time slot even if NBC still has the lowest rated programs in the time slot.

What Are Democrats Hiding on Health Care?

January 18, 2010

The Patriot Update has posted an online petition at Vision to America to “demand that CSPAN be allowed to provide live TV coverage of negotiations and committee meetings.” They are concerned that “Failure to allow live TV coverage will provide Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid with the secret back-room necessary to make the secret pay-offs.”

Democrats received some negative comments after it was discovered that they had bribed Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson by offering to pay for new Medicaid recipients in Nebraska only. Democratic Senators in most other states apparently gave their votes away without getting anything for their voters. We can only speculate about whether they received something of value for themselves such as campaign contributions or consideration for a federal job.

Barack Obama campaigned for President by claiming he was something new. Since being elected he has acted like President George W. Bush by pushing corporate bailouts and huge deficits. He is similar to former President Richard Nixon in is penchant for secrecy and anti-press attitudes, including wanting to keep health care negotiations hidden in the back rooms so voters and the media won’t know what is really going on. His purchase of health care votes is like President Lyndon Johnson

If the real reason for health care legislation is to improve health care access there is no reason to handle the legislation in secret. Those of us who have been around for several presidential elections know that when politicians do things, other than foreign policy, in secret it is usually because they have ulterior motives.

Sometimes in foreign policy, particularly in negotiations, secrecy is necessary to get the best deal from other countries or to get an advantage on an adversary.

Democrats have essentially admitted that there is no hurry on health care legislation. Some provisions of the current bill won’t even go into effect until 2013. Why are they hurrying unless they are hoping to get the legislation passed before we have a chance to read the fine print?

The demand for open discussion of health care should be led by the old media, particularly the Washington Post and New York Times who went to court to publish the Pentagon Papers dealing with the Vietnam War. Instead it is being led by the blogosphere in the form of the Patriot Update which describes it’s site as “Free Press for the Conservative Revolution”.

Symbolic Recall of Obamacare Supporters

January 7, 2010

The U.S. Citizens Association is attempting to do the impossible by petitioning to recall Senators who voted for Obamacare. Although recalling those members of Congress who want to wreck the health care system might be desirable, it isn’t authorized by the Constitution.

The best voters can do is to sign symbolic petitions that would authorize recall of Senators or Representatives if such a option were available.

States have the authority to authorize the recall of state officials because state constitutions determine the method of removing those holding offices defined by state constitutions. However, the U.S. Constitution defines the selection procedures and qualifications for elected federal officials along with their terms of service and the methods for removing them from office.

Incidentally, the U.S. Citizens Association says its mission is “To educate the voters on critical issues driving governmental policy, and why capitalism and individual liberty are vital to a robust economy (and to educate on how failures of Statist policies have led us into the economic catastrophe we now face);…”

Voters may not have to recall members of Congress to get them to change their approach to health care. A symbolic, or virtual, recall would be easier to conduct and be more likely to succeed at demonstrating voter displeasure. The same basic petition form could be used in all states because a symbolic recall wouldn’t require adhering to procedures established by different state laws, including definition of the grounds for recall. An actual recall could be held up by the courts for a significant time. A symbolic recall could take place immediately.

In an actual recall some voters might be reluctant to remove a member of Congress because of concern about who the replacement would be. A symbolic recall would allow voters to demonstrate that they want Senators and Representatives to take a different approach to health care or other issues than the one currently being considered.

A recall effort might have a bigger impact on members of the House of Representatives who voted for Obamacare because all of them will be up for reelection this year. They might decide to change their votes to keep a symbolic recall from becoming a movement to replace them. People carrying recall petitions might later encourage voters to support an opponent in the election. A recall effort could encourage stronger candidates to seek to replace Obamacare supporters.

Voters have already scared two Obamacare Senators into retiring, perhaps they can scare others into abandoning Obamacare.