Bill Clinton, freshly deployed Hillary Clinton campaigner, visited Stephen Colbert on CBS’ The Late Show last night to explain why Bernie Sanders is doing so well in polling, what’s up with Donald Trump, and for whom he will vote which yes, was a serious softball. But Lady Gaga, plugging the debut of FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel on NBC’s Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, trumped Clinton in the ratings, with an assist from Jay Leno.
“Who do you like for 2016?” Colbert asked Clinton.
“The lady I saw singing on Saturday Night Live,” Clinton quipped. “That woman was wonderful…made me want to take a drink with her.”
President Clinton did lift Colbert’s ratings compared to previous night when Sen. John McCain was his guest, with a metered market household 2.8 that climbed from previous night’s 2.5 and from prior Tuesday’s 2.6. Colbert’s Clinton demo bump was more subtle; last night’s 0.6 in Local People Meter markets improved on Monday’s 0.5 (which equaled Colbert’s lowest early stat in the demo since debuting on CBS).
But the night was Fallon’s. He equaled his highest household rating for a Tuesday (3.0/8) since July 14, and beat Colbert and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live combined in the demo, as viewers came to watch Lady Gaga talk about her role on the latest iteration of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story franchise, Hotel.
She explained she’d spent years studying acting – a career track thwarted, she said, by her lousy audition skills, leading her to pick a career in music. Also, her deep and abiding love of all things scary and dangerous on TV – including “a ton of Dateline” – which must have thrilled NBC News, coming three days before this Friday’s Dateline: The Cosby Accusers Speak, in which 27 Bill Cosby accusers gather in the same room to share their stories with Kate Snow.
Walking up to last night’s Tonight show, NBC effectively enlisted the press to toss an additional bright shiny light in the direction of viewers: a photo of Jay Leno making a surprise return to Tonight Show to crash Fallon’s monologue.
Fallon beat Colbert’s household 2.8/8 and Jimmy Kimmel Live’s 1.7/5 on ABC. His demographic dominance was even more pronounced. In Local People Meter markets, Fallon 1.2/6 topped Colbert’s 0.6/3 and Kimmel’s 0.5/2.
Reminding viewers President Obama had named Bill Clinton our country’s Explainer in Chief, Colbert asked Clinton to explain Sanders’ polling and Donald Trump’s too. In re Sanders, Clinton explained, “There are a lot of people all over the world who are really hacked off that they think the system’s rigged against them and the rich get all the gains. In America, a lot believe Republicans reward people who go the furthest to the right, so the Democrats think it will be even more effective if they go further to the left.”
Trump meanwhile, is a “master brander and he’s the most interesting character out there,” Clinton explained.
“If you look at the first debate, a lot of those guys were competing for who could be the most politically correct in their answers. Trump says, ‘OK I supported Democrats, I supported Republicans. Yeah, I used to be friends with Bill Clinton, who cares. I run things, and I build things. you need somebody that will go in there and fix it and if they don’t let me fix it I’ll just get them out of the way. It may have short half-life, his campaign – I can’t tell you. But he’s a master brander and there and is macho appeal to saying ‘I’m sick of nothing happening. I make things happen. Vote for me.’ “