Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Dennis Prager: Whatever the Left Dominates, It Ruins: The Descent from Johnny Carson to Stephen Colbert is as Breathtaking as It is Heartbreaking


Johnny Carson, circa 1970, i.e., in the eighth or ninth year of his reign

By Grand Rapids Anonymous
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 5:28:00 P.M. EDT


I found this in my mailbox.

This is an article I think most of us can agree with.

N.S.: The death of professionalism, and all forms of objectivity.

A few years ago, Jimmy Fallon had Cong. Mrs. Michele Bachmann on as a guest on what was for 29-and-a-half years the late Johnny Carson’s stage. As intro music, Fallon had the orchestra play something that neither Mrs. Bachmann nor I would have recognized, but whose title was in fact obscene. Fallon was obscenely insulting his guest.

I had never been interested in Fallon anyway, because he was such a lightweight, but it turned out that he was a dirtbag, as well.

Several years ago, David Letterman threw off all pretense to professionalism, and began attacking one of Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughters in a very personal way, while also shilling for the John Doe calling himself “Barack Obama.”

Years earlier, I had been a frequent view of Letterman’s, but I don’t recall ever watching him again. And when he retired, I felt nothing.

Long before Johnny Carson retired, in 1992, he had run out of gas. Periodically, a rival network would decide to unseat him from his throne as the King of Late Night, and hire an old friend and guest host (e.g., Joan Rivers) of his go head-to-head with him. It was never close. Johnny would get his Irish up, work at his old level, and vanquish his newfound foe, before sinking back into mediocrity.

When the end came, I devotedly watched the last week. On one show, he had the same guests as on his first show, 29.5 years earlier. On another, the last regular show, I believe, Bette Midler appeared, and sang not one, not two, but FOUR different songs.

His last week on the air, he put on some amazing shows. One night, Bette Midler performed not one, not two, but four songs, accompanied by some comely ladies in mermaid costumes. I always forget one, but I recall "Miss Oda Regrets," "One for My Baby," and in closing, "Here's That Rainy Day." I could have sworn I saw Johnny wipe away a tear at the end of that song, but he did it in such a subtle way, I've never been absolutely certain.

The last night wasn't a normal show at all, but a camera following Johnny around for a typical day of producing the show. As far as I'm concerned, the penultimate show was his send-off. He had the surviving performers who had been his guests on his first show, in 1962 -- Mel Brooks and Tony Bennett. Bennett gave a beautiful, perfect rendition of "I'll be Seeing You," which was Carson's favorite song.

I’ll remember some of those last Carson shows until my brain turns to tapioca. Likewise, when Julia Roberts appeared on Letterman, and pressured him to marry the mother of his child.

My favorite Letterman memory is when he let his eternal second banana, orchestra conductor Paul Schaffer host. Schaffer mentioned at one point that he’d always wanted to ask a well-endowed actress, “Are they real?,” and did just that to Danish stunner, Connie Nielsen, who responded that they were.

(Nielsen had a lovely figure, but was not voluptuous, so she was a safe bet.)

I can’t recall too many individual episodes of late night variety/talk TV, but that’s because I saw thousands of them. It’s like trying to remember specific great baseball plays. Unless you see them repeatedly on highlight films—like Willie Mays’ catch off of the Indians’ Vic Wertz, in the 1954 World Series—old memories get pushed out by new ones.
But what lasting memories will today’s younger folks have down the road of Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, et al.?

From Johnny Carson to Stephen Colbert
Whatever the Left dominates, it ruins.
By Dennis Prager —
May 9, 2017 12:00 A.M.

In a monologue considered witty by teenagers, by teenagers in adult bodies, and by those who hate President Trump, CBS Late Show host Stephen Colbert said about the president:

“The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c***holster.”


“You’re turning into a real pr**-tator.”


Not to many of us.

And not just not witty, obscene — which is particularly disturbing because it was broadcast on network, not cable, television.

But more than anything, it exemplified a trend in American life that one could identify without any exaggeration as the unraveling of civil society. To anyone, liberal or conservative, who grew up watching Johnny Carson on late night TV, the descent from Carson to Colbert is as breathtaking as it is heartbreaking.

Along with virtually every other American, I never knew Johnny Carson’s politics. I would not have been surprised if he was a liberal or surprised if he was a conservative, a Democrat, or a Republican. In his 30 years as host of The Tonight Show on NBC, he never so much as hinted as to how he identified politically. He poked fun at whoever was in power, Republican or Democrat.

The reason he didn’t let on where he stood politically is that he believed that he had a much greater responsibility — to offer Americans of all political persuasions an island of good-natured fun, a place where everyone could laugh together, every night.

And, of course, it is inconceivable that he would have used the language Colbert used. Kids could watch The Tonight Show, because he — and we — lived in a pre-Left age, when grown-ups thought that they had a responsibility to be good models to young people, in other words, to be adults. But the Left has never been comfortable with growing up.

Those who mock the Trump motto, “Make America Great Again,” who claim they don’t understand how anyone could think America was ever great, might begin to understand what many of us mean, in at least this one way: Prior to the Age of the Left, in which we have increasingly lived since the mid 1960s, there were places in America where Americans could enjoy life and enjoy one another without politics, not to mention hate-filled politics such as Colbert’s, intruding.

Prior to the Age of the Left, there were places in America where Americans could enjoy life and enjoy one another without politics, not to mention hate-filled politics such as Colbert’s, intruding.

Americans could watch sports events without athletes showing contempt for the American flag and National Anthem, without sportscasters and sportswriters labeling as racist anyone who used the team name “Redskins,” without sports shows injecting politics into their programing, as ESPN does now so often that many sports fans no longer watch it.

It was an America where elementary teachers referred to their students as “boys and girls.” Today, teachers in more and more states are directed not to use those terms, as some six-year-old might not identify as a boy or a girl.

It was an America where kids were proud of the American flag. Today, in the Age of the Left, students on a growing number of American campuses vote to have the flag removed from their campus because it symbolizes, in their view, not freedom and sacrifice, but slavery, oppression, and imperialism — ideas put into their heads by leftist high-school teachers and college professors.

And it was an America in which Superman’s self-proclaimed mission was “truth, justice, and the American way.” A few years ago, however, Superman announced that he was renouncing his American citizenship to become a “world citizen.”

One could list a hundred ways America was indeed great — without ever ignoring serious moral flaws. Now one can list a hundred ways in which America has lost that greatness. The descent from Johnny Carson to Stephen Colbert is just one example. But it is a powerful one.

And it is but one more result of perhaps the most important rule of life of the past hundred years, in America and around the world: Whatever the Left touches, it ruins.

The universities, the news media, the entertainment media, the fine arts, the courts, the high schools and elementary schools (and, coming soon, the preschools, as soon as they’re government-funded and universal) — all ruined wherever leftism has achieved dominance.

Now, it is the turn of late-night TV as embodied by Stephen Colbert. Or, as he himself put it on election night, on Showtime: “I’m your host, Stephen F***ing Colbert.”

Don’t Fire Colbert — Fire His Crowd
Samantha Bee & Liberals’ Smugness Problem
The World Roger Stone Helped Create (or So He’d Have You Believe)

— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


Johnny Carson, late in the game

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