Critics 'Despise' Leno—But Audiences Adore Him NBC is making a mistake: Howard Kurtz By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Mar 25, 2013 12:22 PM CDT 64 comments Comments This Sept. 21, 2012 photo released by NBC shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," on the set in Burbank, Calif. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater) (Newser) – To hear the media tell it, it's about time NBC kicked Jay Leno to the curb. TV critics hate Leno—you can see it in the way they're covering this newest debacle—but most of the country loves him, Howard Kurtz points out on CNN. Leno has the top-rated 11:30pm show; he even beats Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman in the 18-to-49 demographic; he jumped back to No. 1 after the first time the network booted him; he's made NBC hundreds of millions; and at 62, he's still four years younger than Johnny Carson was when he retired. Yet "the media reaction is a collective shrug of the shoulders: Yeah, makes sense. Time to wheel the old guy off the stage." Sure, it makes sense to replace Leno with Fallon eventually, but NBC's hasty move is sure to result in a backlash from viewers, even if critics love the idea. The network's "prime-time lineup is in fifth place. Do they really need to immolate one of the few time periods where the network is No. 1?" Kurtz asks. As for the critics, "they're out of touch with the people who vote with their remote controls." Click for Kurtz's full column.