Archived Story

Oh no! Why did Jay Leno leave the show?

Published 10:03am Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Point of View, by Jerrold Dettle

To many late evening television viewers, the decisions made in New York and Los Angeles that determine television programming are a bit strange.

Jerrold Dettle
Jerrold Dettle

In the case of Jay Leno, the rationale to drop his program was not based on ratings or cost of programming, but the secret desires of the executives of NBC. Jay’s viewer ratings have been outstanding. Many Minnesotans cannot imagine what motivates corporate executives to sacrifice viewers, advertising income and, most of all, the value of the viewer receiving a good laugh before dozing off into the night for much-needed rest and mental escape from a stressful world.

Many Midwesterners feel that the purge of “Jay” from warm Minnesota bedrooms was driven by his tendency to tell jokes about politicians, especially the current occupants of political office. Jay seemed to enjoy guests representing the flag, apple pie and Middle America.

Supposedly a registered Democrat, Jay was balanced in joking about all of the governmental characters now involved in the direction of our nation. Ergo, the inquisitive Minnesotan has been among the first to ask, what really did happen to Jay?

Maybe the following thought can add some interesting fodder to the fire that burns in the mind of many fans.

In 1971 this humble writer originally from the Midwestern plains ventured for the first time into New York City on business. Heavily involved in the advertising and entertainment industry, it was imperative to travel from corporate headquarters outside of Philadelphia into downtown Manhattan on a bimonthly basis for several years.

Shockingly, the first step into the Big Apple was the most impactful when exposed to a sharp contrast of NYC to the rest of America. The city was in the throes of a pending financial bankruptcy. A fellow passenger stated the most popular drink in the multiplicity of bars was a “Manhattan on the rocks.”

A young and dynamic mayor, John Lindsey, was deemed by some to be the next Democratic Party presidential candidate. This writer took the $9 Amtrak trip, which took 15 minutes longer than a plane, but air travel was 12 times more expensive at that time. After disembarking at Grand Central Station, my first impression of the city was like being in a foreign country. The walk up the stairs to ground level presented sidewalks loaded with portable vendors of all types. The loud background music of hundreds of honking cab drivers exhibited a sharp contrast to the “outside” world.

Although this city had avoided the remnants of blackened and burned-out inner cities that had occurred two years before in many of the nation’s metropolitan areas, the appearance of widespread debauchery seemed to be everywhere. Large signs promoting tickets to live sex shows, visible drug dealings, then waiting in lines at hotel elevators created by a multitude of prostitutes. NYC police were conversing on street corners with coats unbuttoned, white shirttails hanging out and smoking. Although the city in the 1980s was returned to order by the very disciplined mayor, Rudy Guiliano, the city of the ’60s and ’70s was in fact the early hub of advertising and film distribution for the world. Large contracts for film distribution to theaters and television outlets throughout the world were made daily. The business executives were typical of any capitalist setting but with a somewhat greater degree of shrewd negotiation.

The actual creators of the news and entertainment products to be contracted were distinctly different in their philosophies and character traits than the so-called “other America.” The nation in the early ’70s was in the depths of the unpopular Vietnam War. Many newly employed in the studios of news outlets and script writing had developed an understandable elitist attitude. Most had originated from outside this circle of newly self-ordained philosophers but had become a large group of like-minded individuals seeking to change the direction of life in Middle America.

Although years have passed, names and faces have changed, there is no observance from this distant viewpoint that this elitist thought process has been altered, but rather has spread to many like-minded pockets of persuasion in large cities and universities across the midland.

The proposed thought for consideration now is this question. Did the difficulties of Jay Leno in continuing his contract at NBC reflect a much larger issue than financial return? Was that issue significant of the acceptance by the heartland of his unbiased entertainment style? It is very probable that the current NBC executives have this distorted view of Jay and his supporters.

I understand how they feel because I have known many in the entertainment industry, and to know them is to understand them and remember their elitist attitude toward Minnesotans and our neighbor states. This distorted view could very possibly be the source of their non-rational treatment of Leno!

For 28 years, Bernard Goldberg, the respected newsman and registered member of the Democratic Party worked loyally at NBC. He provides this perspective in his book titled “Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite.”

Goldberg states, “Some are good guys trying to make the world a better place, that’s why they went into media work.” Goldberg also notes, “What bias in the news is really about: what they report, how they report it and what they choose not to report. The problem is groupthink. Outside the newsroom, the elites hang out with too many people who think just the way they do about the big issues of the day.” He also noted in this book, “The reason so many Americans who are pro-life or anti-affirmative action or who support gun rights detest the mainstream media is that day after day they fail to see in the median any respect for their views. What they see is a mainstream media seeming to legitimize one side (the media elites agree with) as valid and moral, while seeking to cast the other side as narrow, small-minded, and bigoted.”

Has Jay Leno been a victim of this ideological terrorism? If so, how far does it extend, and can we in rural Minnesota protect ourselves economically from this economically destructive ideology? Is elitism the cause of Minnesota’s industries moving to more economically friendly areas?


Jerrold Dettle is a member of the Freeborn County Republican Party.