Robert Rourke of the New York Post penned an interesting — and perhaps spot on — piece on Friday which notes that Colbert, while new, is attracting the “smart viewers” in late night. And with Colbert’s more serious style of interviewing, that would leave the newest 11:35 PM host in the unique position of being able to sway America’s vote.
People are still talking about Colbert’s incredibly candid interview with Vice President Joe Biden, which ran on Sept. 10 — and they’re calling it a game-changer in the 2016 election, even though Biden hasn’t declared his candidacy. Colbert and Biden had an in-depth, 20-minute conversation about finding the faith and courage to continue living in the wake of tremendous loss, a reference to the recent passing of Biden’s son Beau — and the 1972 deaths of his first wife, Neilia, and year-old daughter, Naomi, in a car accident.
Colbert’s respectful yet warm personality made it so easy for Biden to open up and speak from the heart. There wasn’t anyone in the audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater, or at home, who couldn’t relate to him. Perhaps inadvertently, he gave viewers the essence of what’s missing from the current crop of presidential hopefuls: that essential sense of humanity that makes people believe in a candidate.
Pundits who analyze politicians call this a “formation story” because it allows potential voters an empathetic connection to Biden and a belief that he understands and then can address their problems.
That Colbert was able to pull this off in one interview — in front of a younger-skewing audience that you wouldn’t find on “Meet the Press” or another Sunday morning news program — puts him in the rare position of being able to influence the election.
Fallon, by contrast, has had no problem landing big name politicos on NBC’s rival TONIGHT SHOW, but he often engages them in silly skits or games, drawing in lots of eyeballs, but often making his guests look like buffoons.
Fallon’s camp will likely argue that they are in the business of making comedy, not influencing the outcome of elections. The question will be: Can Colbert end up doing both?
THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT airs weeknights at 11:35 PM on CBS.
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