The night comedy died: Did Jay Leno’s Obama jokes get him fired?

by WorldTribune Staff, July 24, 2019

NBC executives have said the reason they replaced 62-year-old Jay Leno with 38-year-old Jimmy Fallon as host of the Tonight Show in 2014 was to attract younger viewers.

But the ratings in the 18 to 49 category at the time showed Leno dominating his time slot among the coveted group.

NBC ousted Jay Leno as host of the Tonight Show in February 2014.

So what was that the real reason Leno was let go?

Here’s one theory circulating online backed only by circumstantial evidence: Hollywood executives familiar with the machinations of late night TV believe that the Obama White House pressured NBC to replace Leno because the comedian was lampooning President Barack Obama on a near-nightly basis.

Leno went after the fact that the First Family spend hundreds of millions on vacations during a recession, that Michelle Obama’s unpopular school food program was a disaster, and the rollout of Obamacare was a mess.

“NBC couldn’t stomach the fact that Leno’s jokes about Obama were always right on target about the first black president… And left-leaning Democrat executives at NBC were being harassed by Obama himself who thought the comedy was a racist attack on him,” a netizen observed.

Newsweek in a July 2013 report noted the irony of replacing Leno when his ratings were through the roof.

“Leno has never been more dominant: the Nielsen ratings for the second week in July have him beating CBS’s David Letterman by a 43 percent margin in the all-important ‘viewers 18 to 49’ category (on which advertising rates are set) and swamping ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel by a crushing 75 percent. The ‘total viewers’ number is a similar story, with Leno delivering 3.3 million compared with Letterman’s 2.6 million and Kimmel’s 2 million. Not counting a two-year rough patch after Letterman was enthroned at CBS in 1993, that makes 17 seasons in which Leno has won his time period since he started hosting the iconic show on May 25, 1992.”

Don Ohlmeyer, who as president of NBC’s West Coast operations in the mid-1990s helped guide Leno to victory over Letterman, said NBC’s explanation for replacing Leno was “bullshit. I’m sure Jay says that to everybody who asks him, but for the Jay that I know, his heart has to be breaking about this. All he wanted to do in his life was The Tonight Show. And instead of going out the way Johnny Carson went out, he’s going out having to make self-deprecating jokes about being fired.”

Golden oldies from Jay Leno:

“I was going to start off tonight with an Obama joke, but I don’t want to get audited by the IRS.”

On NSA surveillance: “We wanted a president who listens to all Americans — now we have one.”

On a new IRS commissioner: “He’s called ‘acting commissioner’ because he has to act like the scandal doesn’t involve the White House.”

On closing the Guantanamo prison for terrorists: “If he really wants to close it, turn it into a government-funded solar power company. The doors will be shut in a month.”

Concerning the Benghazi, Associated Press, and IRS scandals: “Remember in the old days when President Obama’s biggest embarrassment was Joe Biden?”

On saying he didn’t know about the IRS scandal: “He was too busy not knowing anything about Benghazi to not know anything about the IRS.”

“The White House has a new slogan about Benghazi: Hope and change the subject.”

“It’s casual Friday, which means that at the White House, they’re casually going through everybody’s phone calls and records.”

“It is not looking good for President Obama. Today his teleprompter took the fifth.”

“Fox News has changed its slogan from ‘Fair and Balanced’ to ‘See, I told you so!’”

On commencement address: “He told the young graduates their future is bright unless, of course, they want jobs.”

On a Chicago man who set a record for riding a Ferris wheel: “The only other way to go around and around in a circle that many times is to read the official report on Benghazi.”

On White House claims of ignorance on the scandals: “They took ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ out of the Pentagon and moved it into the White House.”

The last and perhaps best….. “These White House scandals are not going away anytime soon. It’s gotten so bad that people in Kenya are now saying he’s 100 percent American.”

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