Conan O’Brien joins the ranks of the unemployed today, so the ousted Tonight Show host now has plenty of time to track the backlash and second-guessing about the TV shell game. Jay Leno remains the villain of the piece, but the hard truth is that O’Brien never drew the numbers of young viewers to his time slot that NBC had hoped for. “The 18-to-34 group is so difficult to attract and the lower half, 18 to 25, is the hardest of all,” a strategist told the New York Times.
The increasingly fractured TV landscape didn’t help. Competition is now fierce for the audience Tonight Show producers once took for granted. O'Brien has been buffetted by the same economic realities most American are grappling with, making him a "Harvard-educated, multi-millionaire late night talk show host" who was "magically transmogrified into a guy who got laid off at the local car plant," blogs Michael Ian Black. (Read more Conan O'Brien stories.)