The late-night television landscape has long been dominated by voices from the left, with liberal comedians such as Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon occupying prime positions from which to issue political commentary thinly disguised as jokes, but the lopsided nature of the genre may be about to change.
Last Monday marked the debut episode of Fox News’ Gutfeld!, an 11 p.m. weeknight comedy show designed to compete with long-running late-night programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC and to provide a conservative counterpoint to the predictably progressive leanings of their hosts.
The launch of Gutfeld! represents an expansion of Fox personality Greg Gutfeld’s previous Saturday-only show that also featured political satire, commentary on current events, and contributions from network personalities and other celebrities, according to The Hill. According to Variety, Fox News executive vice president of primetime programming Meade Cooper explained the rationale behind the new show as follows:
After watching the late night programs on broadcast networks, especially over the last few years, it is easy to see they are all battling for the same audience with the same viewpoints and completely alienating a large swatch of the nation.
It makes sense for us to enter this space to give late night viewers who feel underrepresented a place they can laugh at night without feeling they are getting laughed at.
The gap in the late-night television marketplace for a show friendly toward conservative-minded viewers has become more apparent in recent years, with major network hosts going all-in when it comes to making their political leanings known.
This past November, Colbert took to the airwaves during The Late Show and broke into tears while calling now-former President Donald Trump a “fascist” and accusing him of attempting to “poison American democracy” by questioning the validity of the election results.
Kimmel recently devoted a significant portion of his program to a sycophantic interview with President Joe Biden’s scandal-plagued son Hunter, making light comedy out of his severe drug addiction, habitual encounters with prostitutes, and the potentially corrupt overseas financial dealings which many suspect also implicate his father.
The tendency for late-night comedy hosts to pull punches regarding Democrats while simultaneously savaging conservatives was confirmed last week by Samantha Bee, host of TBS’ Full Frontal, who, when asked by veteran journalist Dan Rather if she avoids criticizing the current president due to her own support of his policies, said, “I can’t deny that that has happened, I think that’s probably true across the board.”
If early numbers are any indication, Gutfeld may really be able to give the mainstream comics a run for their money going forward, as ratings for his debut came in ahead of almost all of the competition.
Whether he is able to maintain that momentum and provide a solid alternative to the smug condescension of his competitors, only time will well.