Not even 24 hours after news of David Letterman’s retirement plans from The Late Show hit social media, then the airwaves, we’ve already got rumblings on who is favored to get the job. And it’s none other than Stephen Colbert, currently on a tear on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.
The rumors started from Nikki Finke, who is, by all accounts, a pretty lousy person, but pretty good at breaking stories. She first posted this Tweet:
Letterman’s 2015 retirement: My sources have said first in line to replace him is Stephen Colbert. Will it happen?
— Nikki Finke (@NikkiFinke) April 3, 2014
The landscape of white, male heirs is pretty limited, with Neil Patrick Harris‘ name bandied about. But current Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson has said he doesn’t want it in the past, and doesn’t appear to be much of a consideration.
So, the word on the street is that Colbert’s contract is up in about a year. Letterman is retiring in about a year. The consensus is also that Colbert would drop the neo-conservative schtick and just act like a regular human being, something he hasn’t really done on camera in ages.
So assuming there’s plenty of money to go around, which I’m sure there is, two big questions stem from this news:
1) Colbert has demonstrated on the show that he does a show that engages him and his devoted fans. He’s never done much to expand his audience. He gets unknown (albeit interesting and fun) intellectuals, academics, and pundits to appear on his show, he would rather have LCD Soundsystem (R.I.P.) or Andrew Bird (hopefully R.I.P.’ing soon) on his show than Katy Perry or Drake. Which begs the question:
WOULD HE WANT TO DO IT?
2) Colbert is a smart guy with a nerdy streak. He’s essentially made his career by mocking politics in general and conservatism more specifically, and for obvious reasons, would have to play more politically agnostic to a broader audience.
In what may shed some light on these two issues is a new Mashable story, which is quoting unnamed sources that say not only is Colbert the “front and center” candidate (not that I’ve ever heard that idiom used to describe someone favored for something, but I think I get the spirit of the comment), but Colbert is apparently excited to take it.
Of course, this all could just be the work of a web outlet, recklessly citing mailroom banter to manufacture a story and drive page views. However, the fact that all the outlets have are credible, and that they seemed to come to this conclusion independent of one another suggests that they’re could be some truth here.
Should we give this news more than 24 hours to marinate before predicting a turn of events that could be 12 months out?
F*ck no. This is the Internet, not…not…not…PRINT JOURNALISM.
More on this story as we get some confirmation that these other guys are tracking in the right direction. Meanwhile, enjoy the Colbert Report. If this is to be believed, it might not be long for this world.