Diss Letterman at Your Peril

Late-night hosts can shape opinion for networks and their viewers
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2008 5:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – John McCain is playing with fire if he thinks he can stand up David Letterman and get away with it. "The middle-of-the-road personalities who've dominated network television since its inception do retain one singular power," Gawker Media head honcho Nick Denton, writing for his flagship blog, warns the wayward candidate. "When they finally get off the fence, the mass of similar-minded voters take notice."

Cable-news viewers know when they're being spun; the insomniacs and opinion-makers watching Dave, Jay, Craig, and Conan are a different animal. "If the late-show host is off the fence, that's a powerful signal to news reporters who haven't been sure how to spin—cynical or brilliant?—the McCain campaign's latest stunt," Denton writes.