Greenfield: Good Riddance to Letterman

David Letterman’s departure isn’t the end of an era. The era of late night talk shows ended a while back.

In Johnny Carson’s final week in the nineties, he played to an audience of twenty million. Lately, Letterman has been lucky to get 2 million. His final shows have played to around 5 million viewers…

…The Late Show isn’t a beloved American institution. It was created by Letterman’s inflated sense of entitlement. It failed in its purpose, as Letterman lost to Leno, and it won’t outlive Letterman by long.

The tributes to Letterman carry heavy doses of media self-importance and self-pity. And these days the two are one and the same. The media isn’t really nostalgic for Letterman’s smarmy laugh; it’s mourning the loss of a time when limited options maintained captive audiences for every fellow media dork awarded a big three network microphone and its incredible power of nationwide prime time airtime…

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