Jay Leno's free ride in the media comes to screeching halt

President Obama isn't the only one who seems to have lost the adoration of the media recently. Jay Leno, who rode a wave of fawning press in the weeks leading up to the premiere of his new 10 p.m. talk show, has fared less well in the days since.

I determined that using Newssift, an "intelligent search tool" developed by the Financial Times Group. Among the neat things Newssift does is assign a "sentiment" -- positive, negative or neutral -- to each of the news articles it turn up. That allows you to gauge how the coverage of a particular topic shifts in tone over time.
In the two weeks leading up to the Sept. 14 debut of The Jay Leno Show on NBC, nearly 49 percent of the 156 articles trawled by Newssift were deemed positive. Only 13 percent were negative, and the remainder were neutral.

In the three days since, however, that proportion has flipped: 37 percent of the 117 articles mentioning Leno were labeled negative, 26 percent were judged positive, and the rest were neutral.

There are some obvious reasons for the shift: Critics were disappointed by the show's lack of creative ambition, and ratings inevitably tailed off after a strong opening, although they rebounded somewhat yesterday.

Leno has also taken some heat for the icky, sanctimonious way he questioned Kanye West about West's MTV Video Music Awards outburst. While West may have been a jackass for ruining Taylor Swift's big moment, many thought it was out of line for Leno to shame West by invoking his dead mother.

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