Conan O'Brien Casts Shade on NBC Trump Town Hall, Evokes Tonight Show

One of the most controversial programming decisions in the 2020 presidential election is NBC's decision to air President Donald Trump's town hall to counterprogram ABC's broadcast of Democrat challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden. Over 100 names from across the entertainment industry implored in NBC and its parent company, Comcast, to change the Trump town hall's time slot. One such figure with a perspective on the network is late-night host Conan O'Brien, who spent the better part of 18 years hosting Late Night and at the end of his run in 2010, The Tonight Show. Now the current host of his self-titled program Conan on TBS tweeted a tongue-in-cheek response to NBC's latest decision. "I can't remember the last time I was this shocked by an NBC programming decision."

Conan O'Brien attends WarnerMedia Upfront 2019 arrivals outside of The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Editorial credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com
Conan O'Brien attends WarnerMedia Upfront 2019 arrivals outside of The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Editorial credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Despite allowing his own town hall, Trump doesn't forget to bite the hand that fed him tweeting, "I'll be doing a major Fake @NBCNews Town Hall Forum, live tonight from Miami, at 8 p.m. They asked me to do it in place of the Rigged Steve Scully (he is now suspended from @cspan for lying) Debate. I wonder if they'll treat me as well as Sleepy Joe? They should!" The president refused the planned second debate, which was to be virtually in light of his COVID-19 diagnosis following the first debate.

Conan O'Brien's Brief Stint as The Tonight Show Host

In The Tonight Show debacle, O'Brien's predecessor Jay Leno agreed to ceded his spot as host in favor of a 10 p.m. hour-long prime time lead in before local news before the program's usual 11:30 p.m. start. As O'Brien took over in 2009, ratings weren't as NBC originally hoped to find him struggling against his biggest competition in David Letterman's Late Show on CBS. Letterman was O'Brien's predecessor on NBC's Late Night. As NBC eventually found a way to weasel their way out of their deal with O'Brien, the host took every opportunity to slam his employer for their lack of faith and betrayal, a move his competition also took note in Letterman and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel. All three put NBC through the wringer while Kimmel and Letterman became equally relentless on Leno, who wasn't thriving in his 10 p.m. as originally thought, but still under contract to NBC.

O'Brien Moves to TBS, Leno Makes Appearances with Kimmel and Letterman

Following Leno's 10 p.m. series cancellation, O'Brien was slowly shown the door and Leno regained his spot back until the duration of his contract was up, and then, Late Night host Jimmy Fallon took over in 2014. Leno took his slamming in stride appearing with Kimmel via conference and he even appeared in Super Bowl commercials to promote Letterman's Late Show for CBS. Following his comedy tour following his Tonight Show firing, O'Brien decided to go to cable in 2010 rather than compete directly with his broadcast brethren despite FOX being a viable option. Conan airs weeknights at 11 p.m. on TBS.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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