“Study: Mitt Romney late-night laughingstock,” shouted Politico in its headline.
“Romney is Butt of Late Night,” bellowed Mediabistro.
“Mitt Romney’s late-night problem,” bemoaned The Washington Post . . . and there were loads more where those came from.
From Aug. 27 (which was the start of the Republican National Convention) to Oct. 3, the center said, it analyzed the targets of all jokes about public figures in the opening monologues of the “highest rated late night talk show hosts on the broadcast networks — Jay Leno (‘Tonight Show’), David Letterman (‘Late Show’), Craig Ferguson (‘Late Late Show’) and Jimmy Fallon (‘Late Night’).”
The problem is, those are not the four highest-rated late-night talk show hosts on the broadcast networks.
During the dates of the study, ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” clocked 1.664 million viewers — a bigger audience than Fallon’s show (1.613 million) and a lot bigger than Ferguson’s (1.337 million).
It’s the same story measuring the year to date: Kimmel’s show beats Fallon’s and Ferguson’s.
Kimmel also beats both Fallon and Ferguson in household ratings in the period of the study and for the year to date.
And, just to be thorough, Kimmel’s show beats Fallon’s and Ferguson’s among voting age viewers — 18 and up — for the period of the study and for the year to date.
Kimmel’s show was, however, not included in the study.
Asked why not, the center’s research director, Dan Amundson, told The TV Column that the center has been doing this report since 1988 and that “until pretty recently, he’s been a much smaller player.” And while there’s been much more buzz about Kimmel lately, Amundson said, Kimmel’s still not as “high on the radar.” Kimmel’s ABC show debuted in January 2003.
The notion of Kimmel’s not being on people’s radar screen would be news to media behemoth Disney, which thinks Kimmel’s so high in the ratings that it recently announced it’s taking the 11:35 time slot away from “Nightline” on ABC to let Kimmel run with big fish Letterman and Leno. And it would be news to the White House correspondents, who asked Kimmel to headline their last White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.
Amundson told The TV Column the study was important, because “a lot of [the candidates’] public image gets set . . . by the way late-night comics are tackling them” and that young viewers in particular look to late-night TV for information on the candidates.
The study does not include the virtual cornucopia of late-night comics making presidential-race gags on cable TV — including Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report,” HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” TBS’s “Conan,” E!’s “Chelsea Lately” and FX’s Russell Brand and W. Kamau Bell shows — because of the center’s limited resources, Amundson said.