New Book Claims Jay Leno Wasn't As Bad As He Was Portrayed in 'Tonight Show' Debate

Fans that followed the raging “Tonight Show” debate last year may be surprised to learn that Jay Leno wasn’t the villain he was portrayed to be, according to a new book from journalist Bill Carter.

A New York Times writer, Carter covered the battle and is revealing all he learned in his book “The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy.” In an interview with AOL’s PopEater, Carter says Leno never had a “Machiavellian strategy to overthrow Conan and reclaim his show.”

“I would not say Jay rooted for Conan to fail,” Carter tells PopEater of Leno’s sentiments after O’Brien succeeded him in “The Tonight Show. “But he wouldn’t be human if he didn’t root for Conan to do less well than he had at ‘Tonight.’”

Carter describes O’Brien as a “deep, complicated, sensitive and obviously hugely-intelligent guy,” who handled himself with poise when he was backed against a wall.

Go to to read the whole interview.