Political figures and news commentators have become late-night’s most sought-after guests

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert had one of the biggest nights of the year on Oct. 1 when it had Rachel Maddow as a guest.

The MSNBC star weighing in on the Trump impeachment inquiry was watched by 4.6 million, exceeding the combined viewership that night of Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show (with guest Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Jimmy Kimmel Live! (with Joker star Joaquin Phoenix).

“The formula for success on the big late-night network television shows used to be simple. Keep it light, keep it moving and book a major star, preferably one in the news,” says John Koblin.

“Now, with impeachment in the air and the 2020 presidential campaign underway, the shows that do best are the ones that don’t shy away from politics — and the guests who deliver big ratings are political figures and news commentators.” That’s why CNN’s Jake Tapper has become the most sought-after booking. “It’s definitely unusual,” says Tapper.

“Previously, it would require some sort of hook. You know, I wrote a book about Afghanistan, or I was moderating a debate. Now they call randomly and want me to simply talk the news of the day.”

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