CBS Chief: Stephen Colbert Is a 'Moderate'

Wednesday, 30 Apr 2014 10:17 PM

By Lisa Degnen

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The man who is handing over David Letterman's late-night TV slot to Stephen Colbert says the comic is actually a political moderate despite making his name by deriding conservatives.

According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, CBS chief executive Les Moonves said on Wednesday that Colbert is exactly the right guy to fill Letterman's shoes and that critics don't know what they are talking about.

"You know what? Ironically, Stephen Colbert is much more moderate than people think he is," Moonves said at the Milken Institute Global Conference. "He's a great social commentator, and that's sort of what we want. That's sort of what David Letterman has been."

Moonves was responding to comments made by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on April 10 when he told his listeners that with the choice of Colbert to head the talk show, comedy will no longer be "a covert assault on traditional American values, conservatives. Now it's just going to be wide out in the open."

"What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny and a redefinition of what is comedy, and there's blowing up the 11:30 format under the guise that the world's changing," Limbaugh said.

"It's media planting a flag here, maybe even media's last stand. It's a declaration," he said. "There's no unity in this hire. They've hired a partisan, so-called comedian, to run a comedy show."

Moonves did acknowledge that fewer people are tuning into late-night television these days than 20 years ago.

"Late night is not what it used to be during the days of Johnny Carson and even the early days of David Letterman," he said. "It was much more of a profit center. The last few years it's been more about bragging rights."

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