Why Do So Many Late Night Comics Lean to the Left Politically?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 18, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight, the late-night comics are all left wing. Any fair-minded person can see that. To be fair, most of them will mock the left as well as the right. But as Conan O'Brien proved at the Emmys, they're liberal guys:


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, NBC'S "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": Ladies and gentlemen, our next two presenters have done for fake news what the FOX News Channel has done for fake news. Please welcome Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart!


Well, there you go.

Joining us now from Los Angeles, entertainment reporter Jeanne Wolf.

I know — I don't know whether you know these guys. I know most of these guys. And, you know, Jay Leno, he's fair in his program, but he's a liberal guy. He'll tell you that.

David Letterman, very committed liberal. Bill Maher, off the chart left. Conan O'Brien, very liberal. Obviously, Colbert and Stewart live in the liberal precincts, make their living there.

I don't know, Kimmel; Ferguson, very liberal. I don't know what Kimmel is doing. What I'm saying to myself, shouldn't there be one moderate or conservative or traditionalist, you know, operating in these precincts?

JEANNE WOLF, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Hey, let's emphasize the part where you say they are equal opportunity teasers. I mean, let's be fair. You don't have to worry about these guys' politics as much as you have to worry about the fact that they say to the world I will say or do anything my Mama told me not to, if you'll laugh.

O'REILLY: They will mock everybody. I agree 100 percent, and I respect them.-- I don't like the personal attacks, but here's where it makes the difference. They'll bring on a far left person and kiss.. their.. butt, all right?

They'll bring me in, as you saw with Letterman, and there will be a big brouhaha about it. Here's, you know, this, that. Come on.

WOLF: Let's not go back to that old feud.

O'REILLY: It's not a feud. It's not a feud. I'm not feuding with Dave.

WOLF: All right, as far as I'm concerned, when you were on with Letterman, I learned a lot more about your two personalities than I learned about either one of your politics.

O'REILLY: He would never — Letterman would never have gone after a liberal like George Clooney or anybody like that...

WOLF: Letterman goes after everybody.

O'REILLY: But not on the desk...

WOLF: Yes, absolutely. Bill, he's got a very sharp skewer, and he skews it at everybody. I know plenty of stars, way to the left or of any persuasion, who won't go on his show, because he can skewer much more effectively -- with a joke.

O'REILLY: He will mock you if you — if you are stupid, he will mock you. But he does not challenge the left, where he's appalled by me. He just thinks I'm the devil.

WOLF: He likes to challenge you and we discovered that not only are you a better debater than he is, but we also discovered that you can dish it out better than you can take it, a little bit. A little sensitive.

O'REILLY: All right. Whatever. All I'm trying to do — I'm trying to figure out why there isn't one moderate or conservative running a late night show. And I can't — all the "Saturday Night Live" people, a lot of people, all far left people, right down the line.

WOLF: Let's put it this way, when you can only see one side of an issue, one side of an issue, which often is true of the conservatives, if we're going to generalize here, you miss the absurdity of humanity. Right now there are an awful lot of Bush jokes out there. And it's hard for a conservative to do that...

O'REILLY: But it has to be. I don't believe that. I think you can -- you have to make fun of those in power. But I think — you know what I think it is? I think that the audience is younger and they're going for the younger demo at night and then they, well figure all these kids are left wing anyway, so we'll bring in these guys.

WOLF: The late night audience is a very wide audience. Jay Leno isn't just talking to kids. Look, let's figure out, why do you watch late night TV? You watch it to relax.

O'REILLY: Yes. Maybe get...

WOLF: Maybe a preamble to a little love-in or maybe a preamble to going to sleep. I would not say watching FOX News is like having a nice warm glass of milk with some cookies, a preamble to a little lovin', or a preamble to falling asleep.

O'REILLY: We've got a lot of loving going on, Jeanne! You're misguided. We are the love machine here on “The Factor".

Look, the reason I bring this up is because more and more of these late night programs are booking important people, and they're talking about serious issues, and they're all...

WOLF: And politicians are going on the late night shows because they know they are getting the audience in a way that the news isn't.

O'REILLY: They're all coming from — they're all coming from the same place, and I would just like to see one that may be a little bit more moderate or traditional. Always a pleasure talking to you.

WOLF: You know what, conservatives just aren't as funny.

O'REILLY: Well, the liberals are sure laughing at them. So there must be something going on.

WOLF: All right. Not as funny on purpose.

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