Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Leno: Putting Blame Where it Belongs

I was going to email someone about this issue, but I thought that the matter was better served in a post. I've been trying to hold back on writing about the late night unpleasantness at NBC, but Jay Leno's monologue last night sort of pulled me back into this. I admit that even I am getting fatigued by the length of this story, but I had to come back to critique this issue. You see, the line that I keep seeing in forum posts and such regarding the Tonight Show fiasco is that people shouldn't be angry with Jay Leno because he is a victim in all this too.

You see, Jay Leno is trying to get out of this whole debacle as an innocent and equally aggrieved party too, but frankly his previous actions don't seem to back that up. I will reproduce Jay Leno's statements from last night's monologue and bold the passages which are of particular note.

I thought maybe I should address this. At least give you my view of what has been going on here at NBC. Oh, let’s start in 2004. 2004 I’m sitting in my office, an NBC executive comes in and says to me, listen, Conan O’Brien has gotten offers from other networks. We don’t want him to go, so we’re going to give him ‘The Tonight Show.’ I said, ‘well, I’ve been number one for 12 years.’ They said, ‘we know that, but we don’t think you can sustain that.’ I said, ‘okay. How about until I fall to number two, then you fire me?’ ‘No, we made this decision.’ I said, ‘that’s fine.’ Don’t blame Conan O’Brien. Nice guy, good family guy, great guy. He and I have talked and not a problem since then. That’s what managers and people do, they try to get something for their clients. I said, ‘I’ll retire just to avoid what happened the last time.’ Okay.

Like Jay's former manager Helen Kushnick did when she helped put pressure on Johnny Carson to facilitate his exit from The Tonight Show through a series of backstage maneuvers and some well placed press coverage (things that were done with Leno deniability in mind). And Leno didn't just retire now did he?

So time goes by and we stay number one up until the day we leave. We hand - (applause)-No, no. Okay, but I’m leaving before my contract is out. About six to eight months early. So before I could go anywhere else, I would be at least a year or 18 months before I could go and do a show somewhere else. I said to NBC, ‘would you release me from my contract.’ They said, ‘we want to keep you here.’ Okay. What are your ideas? They said, ‘how about primetime?’ I said, ‘that will never work.’ No, no, we want to put you on at 10:00. We have done focus groups. People will love you at 10:00. Look at these studies showing Jay’s chin at 10:00. People will go crazy. Didn’t seem like a good idea at the time. I said, ‘alright, can I keep my staff?’ There are 175 people that work here. I said, ‘can I keep my staff?’ Yes, you can. Let’s try it. We guarantee you two years on the air, guaranteed.

Maybe I am not clear on Hollywood math, but I don't see how 8 months becomes 18 months in that above scenario. Can someone explain that to me. I also remember reading that Jay's contract was finished at the end of his run on The Tonight Show. But I have to give Jay credit. Mentioning his staff in that statement was genius, because it makes him look like a caring human being in this instance. But remember, he just said that the original contract binding him to NBC was up in 6-8 months from his final Tonight Show. And by the moves he discusses later in this monologue end up putting 200+ people, most of whom moved across country for that opportunity, out of work. There is also another little Johnny Carson story that never gets mentioned. Johnny Carson had to wait for his contract to expire at ABC before he could take the helm of The Tonight Show, and ABC held him to the last day of that contract. You are telling me that Leno couldn't have waited for his contract to end? NBC was going to continue to pay him, and he had stated publicly that he was retiring. You think the public wouldn't have waited 8 months for some other Leno project? Or that there wasn't a loophole that Leno could have used to start negotiating with networks (the same kind of loophole Letterman used to have networks pitch themselves to him while he was still under contract with NBC in 1991-2).

Now for the first four or five months against original shows like “CSI” you’ll get killed, but in the spring and summer when the reruns come, that’s when you’ll pick up. Okay, great. I agree to that.

Jay is a savvy guy. He would have been well aware of NBC's track record at 10PM, so he would have known exactly what was about to happen. It has also been widely reported that Jay wasn't forced to do this show, but rather, that at the end of his Tonight Show run, he didn't want to leave and this show was in fact a way of keeping Jay off of Fox.

Four months go by, we don’t make it. Meanwhile, Conan’s show during the summer, we’re not on, was not doing well. The great hope was that we would help him. Well, we didn’t help him any, okay. They come and go, ‘this show isn’t working. We want to let you go.’ Can you let me out of my contract? No, you’re still a valuable asset to this company. How valuable can I be? You fired me twice. How valuable can I be? Okay. So then, the affiliates are not happy. The affiliates are the ones that own the TV stations. They’re the ones that sort of makes the decisions, they’re not happy with your performance and Conan is not doing well at 11:30. I said, ‘what’s your idea?’ They said, ‘well, look, how about you do a half hour show at 11:30?’ Now, where I come from, when your boss gives you a job and you don’t do it well, I think we did a good job here, but we didn’t’ get the ratings, so you get humbled. I said, ‘okay, I’m not crazy about doing a half hour, but okay. What do you want to do with Conan?’ We’ll put him on at midnight, or 12:05, keeps “The Tonight Show” does all that, he gets the whole hour. I said, okay. You think Conan will go for that? Yes, yes. (laughter) Almost guarantee you. I said okay. Shake hands, that’s it. I don’t have a manager, I don’t have an agent, that’s my handshake deal.

Tom Shales about Conan O'Brien's start on The Tonight Show in August 2009: "He's in much better shape than Leno was at the beginning, and Carson didn't really become the master of his domain -- in terms of asserting his own identity -- until a few years into his heroic three-decade run. There've already been enough wild, socko segments on the new "Tonight Show" to fill a 90-minute "Best of Conan" special. But there's still the nagging sensation that we aren't really seeing his best -- at least not yet." I also love the fact that Jay neglects to mention that on at least two occasions he publicly undermined Conan O'Brien by basically saying either that he wanted to come back to do The Tonight Show or that if he was asked, he would definitely do it. If you don't think that Jay Leno showing up at a press conference in disguise that is discussing the Tonight Show transition to Conan O'Brien and asking "Brett Favre retired and then wanted to come back, and the Packers said no. What do you make of that?" isn't, I don't know, being a little dickish, I don't know what is. And there was that whole interview with Broadcasting & Cable where Leno is asked numerous times about taking the 11:35 slot again, and at no time does he say no he wouldn't do that. He'd do whatever the company told him to do. Now if he was talking about these things publicly, then what was he saying privately, because I have a sneaking suspicion that he was a Chatty Cathy with people at NBC about this whole situation, making it clear that he was #1 when he left late night and so on. He also admitted that he talked to the affiliates a lot, and he knew they were pleased with his performance on The Tonight Show, and he may have made a few suggestions. I'm not saying he did, but it is well within the realm of possibility.

Conan told a joke the other day where he stated "And I just want to say to the kids out there watching - you can do anything you want in life, unless Jay Leno wants to do it too." They both work in the same town, so if that lobbying was going on, Conan was probably well aware of it, and now that he is headed out the door, well, now seems like as good a time as any to say it.

And does anyone believe for a second that if they offered Jay Carson Daly's slot that he would have taken it? I have serious doubts about that. Or that he believed that Conan O'Brien would say yes to the deal as described above, because Jay wouldn't have stood for that, and in a 1992 piece in the New York Times, he was rather clear on that.

Next thing I see Conan has a story in the paper saying he doesn’t want to do that. They come back to me and they say if he decides to walk and doesn’t want to do it, do you want the show back? I go, ‘yeah, I’ll take the show back. If that’s what he wants to do. This way, we keep our people working, fine.’ So that’s pretty much where we are. It looks like we might be back at 11:30, I’m not sure. I don’t know. (applause) I don’t know. But through all of this - through all of this, Conan O’Brien has been a gentleman. He’s a good guy. I have no animosity towards him. This is all business. If you don’t get the ratings, they take you off the air. I think you know this town, you can do almost anything. You get ratings they keep you. I wasn't getting the ratings. He wasn't getting the ratings. That was NBC’s solution. It didn’t work. So we might have an answer for you tomorrow. So, we’ll see. That’s basically where it is."

And how can Jay act surprised about this. He knows exactly what that situation feels like, and he was ready to walk over it back in 1992 when they were going to take the show away from him then so he knows exactly how shitty that is to do to someone else (and if he doesn't find it ironic that it happened around 7 months in, then he is really dense). But he makes it sound like he is taking The Tonight Show back with a heavy heart. If you've been publicly angling for the job back, you can't really play that card. It doesn't work that way. To quote Leno in that earlier story: "I am disappointed. I feel like a guy who has bought a car from somebody, painted it, fixed it up and made it look nice and then the guy comes back and says he promised to sell the car to his brother-in-law." I mean, that is exactly what Conan O'Brien could be saying today.

The way things happened, Jay accepted the offer before they ran this plan by Conan, and he admitted that in his monologue. To me, that shows either a remarkable lack of respect on Leno's part, or an incredible amount of eagerness for him to have the 11:30 slot back. So yes, he is an active participant in destroying Conan at NBC, and not just by providing a lousy lead in to his show. He had to do some of the legwork to get Conan out the door by placing him in an unwinnable situation, because even if Conan accepted 12:05, Jay was still in a position to continue to kill The Tonight Show or usurp it. Conan merely saved him a step in the process (but ironically, left it in a better state than if he would have let Jay continue to erode his power and ratings on the show for months or maybe years).

Now personally, I am a political realist, so I appreciate Machiavellian schemes for power, and I think that is exactly what has happened here. The fact that Jay Leno is trying to play the victim here instead of just owning up to his complicity in this whole affair makes him not just unlikable, but someone I can't respect. If he said he wanted the show, events moved in such a way that he could get it back, so he took the network up on their offer, I'd still be pissed at him, but I could nod my head and say that at least he was honest in the pursuit. He was applauded as being clever for sneaking into a storage area to listen to a network meeting regarding his job at The Tonight Show back when it was still on shaky ground.

I mean, put it this way, I am siding with Rosie O'Donnell on this thing, you know someone who is on my Enemies List. If you haven't heard the story, well, Rosie was offered a gig as a Tonight Show Guest Host in the mid-1990's by someone at NBC which she accepted, and Jay put the kibosh on that, and then tried to still act like he was a nice guy in that mess.

The fact that so many comedians have come out against Jay Leno in all this is also telling. Jay still works a lot of comedy gigs, so if his peers who he likely rubs elbows with on a weekly basis in clubs around the country aren't directing all their anger towards NBC suggest that there is perhaps other stories that aren't being told in all this, other slights and tales of Leno being dickish. The one notable comedian who has come out in favor of Jay in this is Jerry Seinfeld, but you have to remember that he also got an NBC time slot because of this shuffle, so he isn't the most objective person in this whole thing.

But the concise way of saying this is, Jay Leno, even if it was a network decision, still pushed another person under a bus to get The Tonight Show back. If that other information wasn't out there, the fact that he agreed to take the 11:30 time slot before Conan had made been made aware of the proposal was bad enough. But the fact that Leno publicly stated he either wanted the show back or was willing to take it back if the opportunity arose makes Leno complicit in this affair, and there were likely other conversations which we may never know about which really put Leno's actions in clear perspective. He sat at that desk for 17 years, and he denied another person the joy of helming The Tonight Show (make that at least 3 people now). But somehow he's a victim in all this.

I'm sorry, but I don't think I can ever believe that.


Anonymous said...

Great post. I also found Leno's excuses very disturbing, but you put your finger right on it. Leno playing the victim card is not only disingenuous but an outright lie.

MC said...

It is pure spin control.

AG said...

Well done. I think Jay himself *believes* that he's just being a company guy here, but his implication that he's some sort of pawn is just silly. Clearly this is a man who really, really hates being perceived as ineffectual or unlikeable; I suspect the poor reviews of the prime-time shows were working his nerves, and whining from the affiliates did the rest. Conan was expendable, precisely *because* Jay believed and believes his own hype re being a nice guy, good company man, etc.

Ironically, under the believes-his-own-BS scenario I reckon he's surprised by the vitriol (and yes, I've formed my opinion of all this in part by observing how people who actually know these guys and work in that business have lined up; frankly, I find Seinfeld sufficiently loathsome that his "endorsement" alone would've pointed me toward Team Coco). Jay's professional schtick involves being nice to whatever lands in his guest chair; the gap between his response and that of Conan / Kimmel / Team Coco is, as much as anything, a nice illustration of the gap between the two audiences. Which could also explain why I cannot bear to watch Leno, and cannot imagine a late-night landscape without Conan.

D. Prince said...

Bravo MC.

MC said...

AG: I think the fact that Johnny Carson was sending jokes to David Letterman after he retired also says a lot about Leno and how Carson left that show, his show.

Of course, it is hard to be the company man when you are sabotaging the success of that company.

Now, if you listen to Rosie describe her experience on The Tonight Show, it shows Leno in a bad light as an interviewer as well (there is a monitor in his line of sight, and when he isn't in the shot, he doesn't look at his guests, instead consulting his cards).

D. Prince: Thank you. :)

John Boy said...

If I was offered a job I really wanted, but it meant replacing somebody who deserved it more than me, I couldn't in good conscience take it. If Jay Leno was contractually obligated to do whatever NBC demanded, he could cry victim. The fact he's doing this of his own free will makes him culpable and therefore justifies everyone's contempt for him specifically. I never really had a problem with Leno before, but I sure as hell do now and won't be watching any show he's on ever again.

MC said...

Someone posted an interesting link today on a Facebook group, a link which discussed NBC's overall plan for this entire scenario back in late 2008.

It is worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Very well put together. Maybe I've been playing too many video games lately, but the way Leno's speech went I felt more like I was seeing a testimony out of a Phoenix Wright game, what with all the contradictions, than something that was occurring in real life.

MC said...

I think that is a good analogy. I've read a lot of different interpretations of that speech, but the common link in all of them seems to be that what Leno said was internally inconsistent at best.

Oh, and thanks for dropping a link to this post at Armchair Mogul too as a counterargument to that post.

Fantasticles said...

I think your arguments are well stated, but distinctly biased. I'll address these one at a time:

Managers: Leno's exactly right. It's a manager's job to be ruthless on behalf of their client. Helen Kushnick did it for him and now I'm sure Conan's manager is trying to do it for Conan. This isn't a contradiction at all. This is Leno telling you how it is.

Leno not retiring: It's not a crime to accept work. Leno was number 1 in the ratings FOREVER. And he was being asked to leave prematurely. I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask "what's in it for me?" When the answer comes back "a primetime show", no one should begrudge the man an opportunity to work. The big difference between what's happening now and what happened with Johnny Carson is this: You remember all those TV shows and specials Carson did after he retired from The Tonight Show? No? Exactly. There weren't any. Carson played golf, sipped martinis and enjoyed his life. Why? Because he retired. Voluntarily. You think if, when Leno wasn't performing as expected, NBC wouldn't have taken Johnny back in a heartbeat if they thought they could get him? Of course they would. But they couldn't...because Johnny decide he was DONE WORKING.

I don't get that impression with Leno. Leno wasn't done. He likes working. Hell, the man STILL did stand up, even during all those years he was hosting The Tonight Show. He LOVES to work. He loves being on TV. That's not a crime. His boss asked him to step down and he agreed. Dude, you've seen documentaries about Hollywood, you know how it is. They ask you to do something, then they ask you to make a statement about that thing. You play ball or you're off the field. So Leno does what he's asked because he knows this whole thing is all a game. Other than the jobs, other people's ability to sustain their lifestyles and support families, none of it is important. Conan broke the first law of comedy...he took himself seriously. And it cost jobs.

8 months becomes 18 months - AKA Hollywood math: Dude, we have NO IDEA what was in his contract. You've no doubt heard that Conan was being asked to not appear on TV for almost a year after leaving NBC, you really think it'd be any different for Leno? A guy who, unlike Conan, proved on paper he can conquer the 11:30 time slot? Come on. NBC sees Leno as a valuable asset and it's completely reasonable he'd have a no-compete clause in his contract, even after termination. Hell, even I had that in MY contract for a while! And I'm no ratings giant : )

NBC's 10pm track record: Yes. Jay probably did know what would happen in the 10pm slot. As he stated in his monologue. No contradiction. And no, Jay wasn't forced to do the show. As he stated in his monologue. But again, I don't see why you're against the guy accepting work. If you think he should've turned down the work so as to help his buddy Conan out, just keep in mind that as you pointed out, it was Conan forcing NBC's hand that got Leno kicked out of The Tonight Show in the first place. If Jay's acceptance of the offer to host a primetime show is what you think he did wrong, we'll just have to agree to disagree, or preferably, agree that your opinion is incorrect : )

More in the next post (character limit)

Fantasticles said...

Leno's "lobbying" for his old show back: I don't like to base arguments on conjecture, so instead of guessing what he said behind closed doors, I'll address public knowledge. And that is this: letting your boss know you're still available to work isn't a bad thing. It's not even a mean thing. Now, letting your boss know you're still available to work if the guy they hired to replace you (before you were ready to go) isn't doing the job right? In my opinion, it's only wrong if you promised someone you wouldn't do that.

Leno not taking Carson Daly's spot: Why should he? That's like asking Steven Spielberg to work the video section at Walmart. He made a fortune for NBC. But it was never offered so I don't see the relevance.

Leno's belief that Conan would've taken the deal: I did. Why wouldn't he? Did anyone really foresee Conan's stance on 12:05 coming?

And about that, I know Conan loves The Tonight Show and considers it important, but in my opinion, that letter had little to do with the destruction of a talk show. I think it was about making a stand for himself. It was about letting his bosses know he's done being pushed around by a network that doesn't appreciate him. I can respect that.

What I don't respect is people mistaking this for heroism. Heroism isn't putting your pride before others. In fact, it's the opposite. Heroism is doing whatever it takes to keep your family fed and watching out for the well being of the people in your care. Gambling your job and the jobs of all your employees over a 30 minute difference on a show that was losing to the competition, well, that's not just a bad bet, it's distinctly non heroic.

Agree with me? Think I'm full of it? Come see us over at armchairmogul.net : )

Fantasticles said...

John Boy,
What constitutes "deserving it more"? They've wanted it longer? They're better at it? They need the money?

Because on paper, none of that applies to O'Brien. I agree that Conan's jokes are better and that Leno's jokes are utter crap, but as far as earning ratings, Leno was the king of late night, unmatched by Conan even on his best days - God knows why.

Let's take your scenario: say you're Bryan Singer and your offered the chance to direct the next X-men movie...do you turn it down because Brett Ratner worked really hard on X-3? Even though people didn't like it nearly as much as your X-Men movies?

Does that make you a douche if you take the gig?

I'm just sayin.

MC said...

I never said I wasn't a little biased, and I will certainly own up to that. ;)

And you can certainly appreciate the difference between the network forming a line of succession for a job and someone actively and publicly telling everyone that they wanted to take that job after the transition is made.

Back in the day, The Tonight Show started at 11:15, because the news at most affiliates was only 15 minutes. But a lot of stations started doing half hour news programs at 11, but the Tonight Show still started at 11:15, cutting off Johnny's monologues. Who made the decision to start the Tonight Show at 11:30? Was it the network? No. Johnny just decided one day that he wouldn't start the show until 11:30. Ed and Doc did the first 15 minutes. He wouldn't appear on the show earlier than that. He made that decision. And he got NBC to see it his way. And this wasn't older, powerful Carson... this was closer to the beginning of his tenure with the show. Johnny took himself and the show very seriously.

People got upset when the start time of the Tonight Show moved 5 minutes back in the early 1990's. I don't mean people doing the show... I mean the public, so acting like a half hour isn't, I don't know, sullying an institution, is really short sighted, especially given your reference to Jack Paar. Paar walked over a joke, Carson threatened to walk for so much less on many occasions.

I had a feeling Conan would walk over that because it was NBC's not so subtle way of pushing Conan out. Even if Conan had accepted that arrangement, the writing was on the wall... NBC was going to eventually let him go, so by making them choose, it demonstrated who the network was going to support in the long term. Either they were going to pay him to do the job that he was contracted to do (at 11:35 which a supplement document to his contract stated was indeed the start time for that show) or they were going to come to terms with him and his staff.

NBC by offering Leno that half hour before discussing the matter with Conan was creating an untenable situation, and Leno's agreement with that plan, knowing that if Conan refused, he would get the entire hour back, makes him a guilty party in all this. It wasn't that Leno took a job. He took a job that if the situation was reverse, would cause him to leave as he is on the record stating. It isn't like Conan made his stand and then the network officially offered Leno the 11:35 slot. In that scenario, Conan's days were numbered no matter what.

And people are gabbing about Conan not getting the ratings... when Leno wasn't huge when he began either. He was getting whacked by Arsenio, and when Letterman started, Leno lost for 90 straight weeks. I will say that again... 90 weeks.

And you are acting like Conan held a gun to head of all the executives and said that if he didn't get The Tonight Show, he was going to start shooting. He got offers, NBC wanted to keep him so they had to sweeten the pot.

Re: Carson Daly's slot: I am merely stating that his argument that he is just doing what the company wants likely wouldn't hold true if that was the slot he was offered because he likely wouldn't take that, nor would he accept 12:35 (on the record saying that).

Fantasticles said...

So I'm pretty sad about Conan leaving after having just watched his last show, so I may call it a day on our debate after this round. But I just want you to know I've never had a better time on the Internet...this is what I always wanted it to be. So thanks : )

*ahem* So here we go...

I get that everyone is under
the impression that Leno was going around town with a bullhorn announcing he wants the Tonight Show back, but frankly, I've seen no documentation of this. It all seems to have stemmed from a big game of blog-jocky telephone. I HAVE seen it documented where someone would ask Leno if he'd hypothetically return IF asked back and he'd say he was open to it. But kids, this is just how showbiz works. You never say never. Things in Hollywood change fast. Executives are constantly being fired and the landscape shifts more than the halls of Hogwarts (or the city in Inception if you need a more modern reference). It happens so often that you can't ever definitely close the door on anything. Even Conan, in the midst of all this turmoil, knows this to be the case, as evidenced by his thanking NBC and the fact that he dodged the question when asked by Steve Carell tonight. You'll notice that even though there's all this supposed outcry from celebrities, no one has taken any action against NBC Universal in the way of boycotts or even issuing a strong statement (except for Rosie, but again, I said celebrities).

To put a human spin on it, admitting you're still interested in the one that got away can't be held against a guy - as long as you don't actively sabotage her current relationship. In this case, the relationship was ending anyway. Or at least, that's my understanding.

To your next point, I'm afraid your Ed and Doc example isn't exactly relevant because in that case the final product was being compromised by the time change. It was hurting the work. If the proposed move to 12:05 meant that we'd suddenly cut into the program already 30 minutes in progress, sure, I'd agree with you. But we both know that isn't the case. The show would remain exactly the same in terms of content and budget. I said Conan took himself too seriously, not the work. In this case, the only thing that would've taken a hit is Conan's pride.

As for people getting upset over the 5 minute move in the 90's, I'm willing to concede that point - IF - in turn YOU'RE willing to concede that the 5 minute move ultimately blew over, the Tonight Show remained an institution and the 5 minute move amounted to little more than TV trivia.

I think there's a bit of a leap in logic when you say the writing was on the wall that NBC was eventually going to let Conan go. I think a more apt interpretation of NBC's ultimatum was that Leno was more valuable to them than Conan. Do I agree with that assessment personally? No. I hate Leno's brand of comedy. But can I argue that on paper? Not at all. The numbers back up NBC's assessment. But again, this just makes NBC the bad guy, which is what I've said all along.

I agree that NBC did wrong by Conan by talking to Leno first. But I'm not sure what Leno is "guilty" of by consenting to a win-win situation offered him by his bosses. Shrewdness? Business saavy? If you're trying to say that Leno lost Conan his job by saying he'd fill the void if there was one, I'd have to disagree. The job wouldn't have been up for grabs at all if Leno hadn't knocked it out of the park while Conan was constantly hitting singles.

For more of this argument and the reasons why Conan was losing his ratings, check out this post over at armchairmogul.net - http://wp.me/pGygD-jD

to be continued...right now.

Fantasticles said...

But maybe that's really the heart of all this. Maybe you think that Leno should've sacrificed getting his dream job back so that Conan could have his. I think that's admirable. And refreshing that you'd expect that of people. But I think that standard is above and beyond what should be expected from any successful businessman. Again, we're not talking about a rich guy giving up some of his wealth so a starving man could eat. We're talking about 2 rich guys being considered for the same job. It's hardly incumbent upon Leno watch out for the well being of Conan O'Brien.

Which brings us to the ratings...You are correct. It took forever for Leno to rise to the top. Leno, who was a guest host for Carson inherited the biggest gig in TV from an entertainment god and had to hone his act right there on the Tonight Show in front of everyone. And yeah, it took a while. Conan, on the other hand had his own show for 16 years where he called his own shots and I think it can be argued that he could be held to a higher standard. I'm not saying he should. Just that it could be argued. It's like the difference between jumping a chasm with a running start or a 2 step lunge.

I'm not sure how you got a gun-toting, hostage-taking O'Brien from the phrase "Conan forcing NBC's hand", but I will say that I wouldn't hold it against him. His contract was up and it was time to negotiate. Conan wanted the Tonight Show and leveraged his popularity to get it. I feel he's entitled to get what he can for his hard work. I think you feel that way too. The difference between us is I don't have a double standard about it when it comes to Leno.

All that being said, I was devastated to watch Conan sign off tonight. Don't confuse my alarming fairness and clarity of vision with an affection for Jay Leno. I pretty much hate Jay Leno's work and I intend on continuing my tradition of not watching any of his horrid shows. I'm sad to see Conan go and I miss him already. He's a stand up guy and a class act. But I believe the cream rises to the top and likewise so shall Coco : )

MC said...

Conan did leave the show classy last night. I agree with that.

And yes, it is enjoyable to debate someone without the threat that it is going to degenerate into the trading of barbs regarding each others sexuality and other gems of the XBox Live/Youtube age.

Re: The writing being on the wall. I think we've both been in jobs where we've seen someone have some of their responsibilities removed from them and given to another person. The person who had those duties removed ends up out of a job at some point and the person who took them over ends up staying. Conan was being stripped of responsibilities (as host of the flagship late night show on the schedule) by NBC and Leno (whose proposed half-hour would have taken on that mantle)... so if O'Brien had agreed and at any point had a complaint, well, Jay Leno would be sitting right there as a tangible threat for The Tonight Show. At any point after that, NBC could have said, well, we are sorry you feel like that about this further decision Conan, and we are going to take this opportunity to remind you that Jay Leno is quite willing to do your job. It wasn't just Conan moving his show, it was that Conan would be in a position where NBC could change regimes at the drop of the hat, and with a much less advantageous severance package for himself and his staff than he ultimately received.

Re: Ratings. Leno also had the advantage, even in those early days of having played to that audience off and on for years... while Conan played to a completely different audience, and Jay didn't have to face an established star off the bat either like Conan had to. It is as if NBC set him up to fail by not giving him the time to find an audience and keeping their backup choice so close.

Basically, the way I am looking at the situation is it doesn't matter what names are attached to the events that led up to this, in every case the party of the first is the dick and the party of the second is the victim.

If this scenario was that Conan O'Brien was told that Jimmy Fallon was going to get Late Night in 2004 while Conan got a different but prominently placed show (maybe a post-Today slot), and the events and actions described unfolded in the exact same way, Conan would be culpable in that situation and should be willing to accept his part in the drama. Jay Leno is not taking responsibility for his part in all this and that is why I wrote this entry.

Frankly Leno certainly had a lot more to gain financially from stepping aside after The Jay Leno Show tanked that Conan did from leaving... so he had far more leverage to secure his release from NBC if that's what he wanted to do.

Fantasticles said...

It'll be interesting to see what happens next. I hate the idea of Conan on Fox. It feel like he's too good for that network, plus, with the notable exception of The Simpsons, Fox cancels everything waaay before it's time.

But unless ABC decides to move Nightline, any other place Conan goes will put him back in his old Late Night timeslot or push one of his supporters out of theirs.

Unenviable to say the least. I know he's not an actor per se, but I'd love to see him in an Office style show. I think he'd be great at that.

MC said...

See, the idea I haven't seen as of yet is Conan writing a comedic screenplay and trying to get into film. I mean, he started his career as a comedy writer, so he might have the chops for a longer project.

lazyhoboguy said...

Great blog. This is how I feel as well. Leno made the choice to take the show back. The honorable thing to do would have been to refuse to take it back.

Fantasticles said...

I think he's definitely got the chops. But knowing how much he loves television, I doubt he'll want to pusue film as his primary outlet. Maybe we'll get another season of "Lookwell" out of all this though.

Summer said...

Fantasticles: I have enjoyed reading your perspective, but I have to point out that "I think that standard is above and beyond what should be expected from any successful businessman." is starting to sound kind of cynical. In fact, your entire assessment of the situation fits the dictionary definition of cynical, which is "Believing or showing the belief that people are motivated chiefly by base or selfish concerns". But not only do you believe that of Jay Leno, you also seem to think it is perfectly acceptable. Just some food for thought.

Fantasticles said...

"Believing or showing the belief that people are motivated chiefly by base or selfish concerns"

In your opinion, does your definition of cynical apply to any of the following statements?

"You think the public wouldn't have waited 8 months for some other Leno project? Or that there wasn't a loophole that Leno could have used to start negotiating with networks?"

"Now if he was talking about these things publicly, then what was he saying privately, because I have a sneaking suspicion that he was a Chatty Cathy with people at NBC about this whole situation, making it clear that he was #1 when he left late night and so on."

"He also admitted that he talked to the affiliates a lot, and he knew they were pleased with his performance on The Tonight Show, and he may have made a few suggestions. I'm not saying he did, but it is well within the realm of possibility."

"And does anyone believe for a second that if they offered Jay Carson Daly's slot that he would have taken it? I have serious doubts about that."

For the record, do you prefer "pot" or "kettle"? : )

P.S. Please realize, "Jay Leno" and "Conan O'Brien" aren't people in my argument. They're business entities. That's the whole basis of my point. That's why my arguments are bulletproof. I'm seeing it objectively - without bias or prejudice.

MC said...

See, I love the fact that somehow I got pulled into a pot/kettle debate without really being involved in that part of the discussion.

I am neither the pot nor the kettle in this... perhaps I am a frying pan.

Now, why are these nice gentlemen with white coats and a straitjacket here for me? I don't believe I am a frying pan, I am merely stating... listen fellas, I am just running a blog here...and that needle won't be necessary... OK I am not any form of cooking wear, happy.

Ouch... that needle hurt... *THUD*

Fantasticles said...

Sorry, buddy. Collateral damage : )

I can't help but feel somewhat responsible for your incarceration. Are there maybe some release papers I could sign? Maybe start a "Free MC" petition?

MC said...

I just wish they'd give me my belt back. My pants keep falling down and that's only funny if there is a setup line first, and little black Napoleon and the big guy that keeps chanting he is going to kill John Tesh don't seem game to giving me said setup.

Fantasticles said...

Anybody catch Oprah today?

MC said...

WINFREY: But you could have done what--do you think now you could have done what
Conan did? When they came in and said your prime time show's canceled, you say
okay, you owe me two years, because that's what you said at the beginning.

Mr. LENO: Right, right.

WINFREY: You were guaranteed at least a year.

Mr. LENO: Right.

WINFREY: Two years if you were successful.

Mr. LENO: Right.

WINFREY: Pay me out, pay out my staff. You could have done that.

Mr. LENO: I could have done that, but I didn't. They offered me my old job back.

Fantasticles said...

Re: pay out the staff:

If you give a man severance, he'll eat for a day. If you secure a man's job, he'll eat for a lifetime (or something like that)

Also, Oprah asked questions on behalf of Conan-supporters during the show, but after the show, seemed baffled at all the anger toward Leno. Observe: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Oprah-Debates-the-Tonight-Show-Controversy-Video

MC said...

She browbeat that crowd.

Fantasticles said...

I agree. They weren't ready for all those facts and logic : )

MC said...

I have a feeling it was more like they were expecting Alicia Silverstone to come back out talking about wanting to show everyone the contents of her toilet instead of the steaming pile Oprah laid out there.

And really, you are siding with the woman made Dr. Phil a star.... for shame sir, for shame.

Fantasticles said...

Well, to be fair, she's siding with me. But you may have a point there - about audience expectations : )

MC said...

See, it still bothers me that he is taking absolutely no responsibility for his decisions in the matter, especially given his past statements that made it clear he knew how crappy what he was doing was (since he was in Conan's position in 1992).

Fantasticles said...

You're hilarious. I'm impressed with how steadfastly you're holding on to the notion that Leno is "doing something" to O'Brien.

So if I'm not mistaken, you're now presenting circumstances in 1992 as some sort of proof that Leno is being a hypocrite by taking his old job back. If that's true, then your comparison has to hold up on some key points. In that scenario, O'Brien would be Leno 1992, Leno 2010 would be Letterman 92, and NBC remains NBC. Right? So for Leno to be a hypocrite, then back in 92, Leno's position would have to be that Letterman was doing a crappy thing, right?

But nowhere in Leno's past statements (at least that I've seen in the article you cited) does Leno blame Letterman (who, like Leno 2010, was more than willing to take his job) or even imply that Letterman was doing something "crappy." He only acknowledges that NBC put them BOTH in a bad position. In fact, he seems to go out of his way to make sure no one thinks he blames Letterman for this. If he ever put the blame on anyone other than NBC, I can see where you were coming from with that. But he didn't. So I don't.

Unless, of course, you concede that in your mind Leno and NBC are a single faction and that you don't differentiate between them. In which case, sure, comedian Jay Leno, also known as NBC, decided Late Night with Conan O'Brien wasn't performing according to the standards he, as a network, thought were acceptable and, disregarding having threatened to fire himself for a similar ratings dip back in '92, told Conan he should move his show to make room for a half-hour version of The NBC Show.

In which case, wow.

Maybe this will help me understand your POV better. If you were dating someone and they decided you weren't making them happy, so they left you for an ex...who are you mad at and why?
The ex? The significant other? Yourself? A combination? No one?

The analogy is obvious but try not to translate it when you answer. Just look at THAT situation and answer honestly. It'll help me understand your position, I think. Really. This isn't a trick : )

I'll answer too if you like.

MC said...

See, my whole take on this would be different if NBC forced Jay Leno to do any of this against his will. But they didn't. He made a choice, just as David Letterman made in the early 1990's when the situation was presented to him. The fact that he can't admit that yes, he had some responsibility in pushing Conan out is what makes me angry. As I said in the original post, if Jay Leno took some of the responsibility instead of passing it on to everyone else, then I could at least respect him. I may not like what he did, but I could accept it if he just owned up to it.

Dave didn't take the job because a) he would have to wait for it (something Jay didn't have to do in this case) b) because in the media Letterman would have been painted as the man who pushed his old friend, Jay Leno, in front of a bus to get the Tonight Show, NBC deal or no NBC deal, and c) he wasn't taking Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, he was taking the less-than-pristine Jay Leno's Tonight Show (at the time), which is a much less prestigious mantle to aspire to... the money would have been the same, if not more from the NBC deal. In the Oprah interview, Leno said that Conan was destroying the legacy of The Tonight Show (thus, Leno is taking over something which he feels is tarnished).

So re: hypocrisy, yes, I think it is hypocritical for Jay to somehow expect Conan to stand for treatment that he himself would not stand for. For Jay Leno to say that he totally expected Conan to be ok with what was proposed after he had agreed to do the half-hour show when Leno would have walked if he was moved to any time slot that was not 11:30 is the argument. As Jay Leno said: "I was hired to do 11:30, and anything else would be perceived as, 'You screwed up."

And re: Jay speaking ill of Dave. He never does shit like that publicly. He just acts like there is nothing wrong, and he can't understand why people are mad at him and he let's other people do his dirty work. There was a gentleman's agreement amongst the talk shows that they wouldn't play that game... but Helen Kushnick was... she was doing it to both Letterman and Arsenio Hall at the time, telling guests and their representation that if there was a conflict between when the Tonight Show wanted someone and one of those other shows, well, they had to choose The Tonight Show or face repercussions not just to that one client, but perhaps to their entire roster. After Hall's show was cancelled, he appeared on Leno's show and admitted that it was that was the reason that Hall started coming after him in the press in 1992.

With regards to your question... it depends entirely on how that situation went down, and how that decision was made. If she was sleeping with her ex for part or the whole time we were dating, then yes, I would be pissed at both of them, and I feel I would be totally justified in doing so because the ex is a knowing party in all that.

I will tell you a story, and I think you will find it enlightening. You see, years ago, I had a good friend who had been dating this girl for a few months, and we got along okay. Well, one night, we calls me up, and we had what I would like to term an uncomfortable conversation where both parties were sober where she said that she was sad that she couldn't date both of us at the same time, but that I was free to come over whenever I liked *wink wink*. Not flirting... full on, coming on to me. Now, in that situation, there were three options. I could have went with the above proposal. I could have said no, and then kept my mouth shut. Or I could have been honest, called my friend up and told him the truth. I did the latter. It was a very difficult conversation to have, but it was the right thing to do in that situation, because even though I politely shot her down, there was no guarantee that somewhere down the line she wasn't going to make that offer to someone else and he had to know that this was going on.

MC said...

After that admission, we became much closer friends and he eventually married a wonderful woman and I envy the fact that he found someone so awesome.

Fantasticles said...

Instead of my usual dissertations, I'll just point out where your arguments are based on assumption, opinion or conjecture rather than fact.

"Dave didn't take the job because ... in the media Letterman would have been painted as the man who pushed his old friend, Jay Leno, in front of a bus to get the Tonight Show." This feels like speculation. What are you basing this on? How can you know Dave's motivation? Can you cite this?

"he wasn't taking Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, he was taking the less-than-pristine Jay Leno's Tonight Show (at the time), which is a much less prestigious mantle to aspire to." That's absurd. The Tonight Show is The Tonight Show. It's always going to have a previous host. This feels a little made up - almost as if it was written to be dramatic - like a line from a screenplay - written by Bill Carter : )

"Leno said that Conan was destroying the legacy of The Tonight Show" This is out of context. Conan said moving the show would be destructive to the franchise, Leno countered that 'franchise destruction' can also be defined as a 49% ratings dip.

"I think it is hypocritical for Jay to somehow expect Conan to stand for treatment that he himself would not stand for." I don't think this is analogous since Conan was actually offered a better deal than Leno. Conan was offered a compromise (keep your show, but move it a half hour). Leno was given an ultimatum (do better by this time or you're fired). Not the same.

"Leno would have walked if he was moved to any time slot that was not 11:30" We don't have to deal in hypotheticals here. This actually happened. Jay was moved right out of his #1 show. And Jay didn't walk. He stuck it out (as I believe Conan should have). And he was asked back when the big boys realized it was a mistake. Jay was playing chess - not checkers, betting on himself in the long run and I think he expected the same from Conan. As did I.

Fantasticles said...

"re: Jay speaking ill of Dave. He never does shit like that publicly." Good point. And since "publicly" is all we can go on, this is a false argument.

"There was a gentleman's agreement amongst the talk shows that they wouldn't play that game... but Helen Kushnick was..." Another good point. But nothing about that suggests Leno was speaking ill about Dave or by extension Conan O'Brien behind closed doors. Helen Kushnick? That would be a reasonable assumption. This is not.

"With regards to your question... it depends entirely on how that situation went down, and how that decision was made." It went down like this: A woman dumps her boyfriend to date you. He publicly tells his friends it was mutual and he's moving on. She then decides you're not making her happy. She calls the ex and says she made a mistake and asks if he would consider getting back together if she was single. He says yes, if she were single, he would take her back. She dumps you. They get back together. As a side note, you and the ex work for different companies in the same business park but you're not friends. Now, who are you mad at and why?

And lastly, I do find your story enlightening. It tells me two things: a) that you're a stand up guy and I like you, b) that you're okay with disregarding relevant facts to make a point. And that's fine, but it's tough to argue against. Unless your point is that Jay Leno valued being host of The Tonight Show more than he valued Conan O'Brien's feelings, in which case I would say, yes. Jay Leno values his own career and the well being of his employees over the feelings of Conan O'Brien. That's a valid argument and based on the facts at hand, I would agree with you. But if that's been your argument all along, it tells me you're personalizing this issue, over identifying with O'Brien and you're feeling slighted on O'Brien's behalf. That would suggest you're likely arguing from an emotional standpoint against which logic (my instrument of choice) is useless.

If not, I think you'll find my analogy much more relevant if you care to indulge me : )

MC said...

I think the heart of this argument comes down to how you answer this simple question. Do you feel that NBC is 100% culpable in this matter, and that Jay Leno is entirely blameless?

And I take what I said back: Jay Leno does indeed attack people publicly. The reason I say that is because I had a chance to reread the transcript of the Oprah interview and he did attack people in it in a very subtle and cunning way (and not in jest), and as I go through interviews he has given in the past, I am find numerous little comments in that vein, full of insinuation.

And I do love the fact that you introduced a loaded emotional question into the proceedings, then used the fact that I answered it to make it seem that I am arguing based on emotion rather than logic. It was a nice try, really it was. *slow applause*

My argument re: Leno's reactions in 1992 vs. Conan's in 2010 is based on game theory. Both actors in this scenario are rational and self-interested, and suspects that the other would do what they would if presented with a particular scenario. So if one actor was to act in a certain way when presented with a scenario, then they must conclude that their counterpart would do the same. It is a reasonable expectation.

Re: Your analogy (which I am humoring), translated into what happened in the above situation. Girl breaks up with ex and give them a lot of time to digest the situation before she starts dating you. She still stays friends with her ex and he ends up living in the same building as you. You think your relationship with the girl is a little rocky, but it is steady, but you aren't worried because it was like that both when you first met her as friends and at the beginning of her relationship with her ex. However, she suddenly tells you that she wants to sleep with her ex before coming to bed with you every night, but you'll still be her boyfriend, and that she already ran it by her ex, and he thought that was an excellent idea. In that situation, would you tell that girl that no, that was not an acceptable arrangement or would you just say ok? The scenario you paint doesn't match the scenario we are talking about.

If NBC had fired Conan and then offered the job back to Jay Leno (who had said he was willing to go back) or even if Leno had said he would be willing to do the half-hour if Conan agreed with it, and if not, then NBC had to make a choice, then it would more closely match the scenario you describe. If you do not feel that what I have just written does not match what you have said, tell me why in specific terms.

Fantasticles said...

re: "Do you feel that NBC is 100% culpable in this matter, and that Jay Leno is entirely blameless?" I feel that Jay Leno did what was best for the interest of his career and the careers of his employees without regard to the feelings or career aspirations of Conan O'Brien.

I would love to answer yes or no, but using the word "blame" insinuates there was a sin. Can please describe the sin you perceive here in the simplest terms (as few words) possible? Is the sin that someone put Conan out of a job?

re: "And I take what I said back: Jay Leno does indeed attack people publicly." I actually don't really care about this as I think it's irrelevant, but can you please cite this?

re: " And I do love the fact that you introduced a loaded emotional question into the proceedings, then used the fact that I answered it to make it seem that I am arguing based on emotion rather than logic." You didn't answer it. You told a story from your dating life instead. An answer would've been, "In the given scenario, I would be angry at x for the following reasons..."

Re-read my last reply. I only said that being angry at Jay Leno for making a business decision without regard to Conan's feelings would be an emotional argument. I didn't say that was the definitely the case - although you are implying it now : )

It's as if I said, "if you stole from me, you would be a criminal" and you replied "Hey! You can't call me a criminal!"

re: "Both actors in this scenario are rational and self-interested, and suspects that the other would do what they would if presented with a particular scenario." That's great, but it predicates conclusions based on false assumptions. Not everyone reacts the same way to stimuli. And it's presumptive on your part to assign that attitude to either party and misleading to present it as fact.

And as far as my analogy goes, the scenario wasn't meant to be "emotionally loaded", it was constructed to present a hypothetical situation to help me understand the process by which you assign blame. Nothing more. But instead of answering, you keep changing the conditions and re-presenting it.

This isn't the Kobayashi Maru, you know : )

But since you've dodged it twice now, I can only surmise that it's either something you don't understand, can't answer or don't want to. Which is fine. I was just trying to understand your thinking.

Beaumaloe said...

Fantasticles, you're like Deep Blue or something. Why can't you just admit that Leno is a big fat fatty face fat! Seriously though, your side of this blogument has made me realize that Conan, (as much as I love and respect him as a host) put his pride before the well-being of his staff. I know he got them severance and all, but from what I hear it amounted to about 1 year's salary. And with the entertainment industry (even in Hollywood) in the crapper, I would presume that the crew would have preferred not to have to seek new gigs. I'm sure the 12:05am time slot would have been a bummer at first, but we would have gotten use to it over the many years of his contract, plus his staff would have stayed working. BTW, I don't think that Conan or Jay is responsible for the well-being of their staff, just their families, but it's interesting to see how they both handled it. Anyhoo, it's been fun following along. Thanks guys!

AG said...

Anyone wondering what Craig Kilborn makes of all this fuss? Only guy I can think of to leave two late-night shows and have his successors do far better with them... nope, just me? Ah well.

MC said...

Now, while we've been having this pleasant and diverting conversation on this vital matter, I've also been observing your cunning use of sophistry, and while I am also guilty of using such techniques, it has been like watching a master at work reading how you've approached this friendly discussion.

I must admit that you are pretty good at it... not quite the best, mind you, but you are very skilled, and you should be applauded for such a developed use of those techniques.

Therefore, I am going to address your most recent comment using the above mentioned techniques, and at the end (I am making footnotes), I will discuss where you used each technique and what it actually accomplishes.

Let's first address the matter of Jay Leno's "blame"(1) in this affair. There is a definite difference between someone taking a job after another person has been terminated, and someone taking a job which knowingly puts someone else in a situation where they will then lose their job. I guess you don't understand the situation or you are naive. (2)

Unless you think that Jay Leno is somehow a life-sized hand puppet for NBC and does whatever they tell him to do. If you do, then wow. (3)

And regarding the ex/dating question: I did answer. When you first asked it, I said it would depend on the situation. You produced a scenario which indicated your perceived analysis of the underlying debate topic (which was the Leno/Conan/NBC triangle) in terms of a dating dynamic in a way that also provided you with deniability and a way to distance yourself from the question if need be. I proposed two counter-analogies and asked you to correct me if I was wrong. It was in those analogies that the answer to your question lay. However, instead of seeing that, you chose to use the fact that I did not answer it concretely in your terms, which allowed you to claim I didn't answer you and therefore you did not have to answer my counterquestion asking you to correct me if I was wrong. (4)

By the way, I think you are being way too emotional about this whole thing. (5)

Re: Your reaction to Game Theory: "Not everyone reacts the same way to stimuli. And it's presumptive on your part to assign that attitude to either party and misleading to present it as fact." (6) Who presented it as fact. I presented it as "a reasonable expectation". There is a difference, and you know that.

"And as far as my analogy goes, the scenario wasn't meant to be "emotionally loaded", it was constructed to present a hypothetical situation to help me understand the process by which you assign blame. Nothing more. But instead of answering, you keep changing the conditions and re-presenting it." Allow me to quote your own words in that same comment. "In the given scenario, I would be angry at x for the following reasons..." The fact that I framed the answer in a way that was different than how you had wanted it (by again, breaking down the scenario in a way which more closely matched the real life event we are discussing) does not invalidate my answers. And again, you are constructing hypothetical scenarios which are emotional in nature rather than dealing with logic. If you are so interested in keeping this logical, why do you keep going in that direction?

It is because you want to make this into an emotional situation, which again brings up (5).

MC said...

However, I will humor you, and break down my earlier story in terms of this issue we are discussing, you know, the point that we are trying to come to common ground on but somehow we keep digressing from.

I was offered a job, one which was already filled. In taking that job, I would be in essence demoting someone else. I mean, yes, they would still have a job, but their position would be compromised. I know that in their situation, I wouldn't be cool with that, so I make the assumption that they wouldn't either (and I know you hate someone assuming that someone else wouldn't be cool with something they aren't down with). So yes, I could have taken that job, knowing full well that in doing so, I might be forcing a situation that causes the other person to make a stand (which is what I would do) and giving me sole possession of that position. What did I do in that situation? I politely turned down that job and then discussed the matter with the other person involved. For all I know, they may have said they were totally cool with it. The likelihood is, they wouldn't be. Doesn't matter if the organization offering me the job said that the other person would be totally cool with it, until I talked to them, I wouldn't do it. It is as simple as that.

And now you can see exactly why I told that story.

But really, I like you, and I have been enjoying this debate, but yeah, I think that we are approaching the point where we are deadlocked. And that's ok. We are going to have to agree to disagree on this because clearly, we are in an intractable position.

MC said...

Oh, here are those footnotes.

(1) For this one, I am not so much going to use the technique against you, rather I am pointing out your use of semantics in as a clever way to avoid a simple yes or no question as to if Jay Leno had any culpability in this matter. Either answer simplifies the debate and puts you in a position where either you have to concede a point (that Jay Leno has some responsibility in this mess) or makes attacking your position easier to attack because it is clear exactly where you are located. Being nebulous makes changing your approach easier.

(2) By subtly but not pointedly insulting you, I am putting you in a position where either you turn the other cheek and thus look like you are agreeing in principle with what you are saying, take umbrage at that insinuation and either respond in anger (which is never a good place to argue from) or with real tangible insults, which allows me to claim that you can't argue about this matter rationally because you are resorting to name calling. In the very comment I am responding to, you made a dig at me not answering a question because I didn't understand it or was incapable of doing so. That was not the first time you resorted to this technique either.

(3) By creating an outlandish situation that you have never even approached, I am discrediting you by implying that you may indeed have that position. You used this kind of argument against me when you tried to make it appear that I thought that NBC and Jay Leno were a single entity, when everything up to that point was contrary to that position.

(4) Finding an objection which allows you to ignore a point is a sure winner in a debate, especially when a question may force you to either inject material which will hurt you later on or again make you commit to positions which allow counter debate to strike down your arguments. It is a masterful move when used correctly against someone who doesn't notice it happening. In this case, in doing so, you have managed to avoid getting entangled in trying to poke holes in a simple analogy or present another middle way scenario.

(5) Telling someone that they are being emotional rather than logical in a debate puts that person on the defensive and allows the accuser to knock down arguments out of hand by calling them emotional. Extra points go out to those in a debate who introduce rhetoric and questions which call for arguments using emotion and then use those answers to toss out things that get in the way.

(6) What I did here is I cherrypicked the part of your statement that I wanted to address while ignoring the other part. In some cases it doesn't change the context, but in other times it most certainly does. This method also allows someone in a debate to hit and run... pick holes in an argument without again, committing to anything substantial.

Fantasticles said...

I'm not familiar with sophistry as a discipline, but it sounds awesome. I guess I'm just a natural. I'll decide after I look it up if I'm proud or ashamed : )

In the meantime, I can't wait to sink my teeth into your latest discourse, but last night my wife delivered our first child, so I may be somewhat unavailble for the time being : )

It's true that we may be at an impass, but again, it was great debating with you. And I was a little swayed by your arguement. I've decided that while Leno wasn't obligated in any way to turn down the job or consult with O'Brien, it would've been a nice thing to do.

In the end, The Tonight Show was Conan's to lose. And unfortunately, he did. I'm sure it wasn't easy for him to make that stand and roll the dice. But that's the risk you take when you gamble.

And to answer my own thrice-dodged question, on a human level, I would be mad at the girl for rejecting me, the ex for emasculating me and myself for not being able to hang onto the girl's affections. But eventually I would have to come to terms with the hard truth that no one in fact is to blame.

It's her right to choose another suitor, as it's a suitor's right to accept an attractive offer. It would be tempting to blame myself for not keeping her attention, but I can only do what I can do. If I knew I did my best, then I can only lick my wounds, make peace with the situation and move on : )

John Boy said...

Fantasticles, not having been to this blog every day (like you seem to - even when your wife's about to give birth), I didn't see your response to my post. So, in regards to your X-Men analogy directed at me, where it falls apart is that the following would be a more accurate allegory:

Bryan Singer directs the first 2 X-Men movies and they do really well. Then, the studio decides they want Brett Ratner to direct X-Men 3 and, after that, X-Men 4. So, Singer says "Okay, I'll go direct something else." Ratner works hard at making X-Men 3 and then when it's about to be released, Singer announces the project he's been working on is his own version of X-Men 3 for the same studio and it's going to be released at the same time and in the same theaters as Ratner's X-Men 3. Well, since there are two X-Men 3's playing at the same time, the audience is divided and both movies end up failing because nobody's willing to pay to see both movies. Then, the studio says, "Sorry, Ratner. We think it was your fault that both X-Men 3 movies failed, so we're gonna give X-Men 4 back to Singer. You're fired." Singer then feigns innocence as though he did nothing to interfere with Ratner's opportunity.

Now do you see the hypocrisy when I put it into your own hypothetical scenario?

Fantasticles said...

"like you seem to - even when your wife's about to give birth"

I would also have accepted "congratulations."
Hit me back when you've remembered your manners.

Oh, and your analogy's a mess.