CBS Chief Les Moonves: Stephen Colbert More 'Moderate' than Comic Appears

The comedian who blasted President George W. Bush during a comedy event, took part in a one-day festival just to mock Glenn Beck and crafted an entire persona to torment the right is more moderate that he appears, according to the head of CBS.

CBS chief executive Les Moonves tried to appease conservatives about the decision to hire Colbert to replace David Letterman during a public appearance this week. 

You know what? Ironically, Stephen Colbert is much more moderate than people think he is," Moonves said Wednesday at the Milken Institute Global Conference. "He's a great social commentator, and that's sort of what we want. That's sort of what David Letterman has been.

It's reminiscent of how Hollywood stars will play down the politics of their latest movies when chatting up the press, knowing to do otherwise will hurt the film's box office hopes. Moonves is attempting a version of this strategy.

The comedian admitted his own biases during an interview with NPR back in 2005:

And then when I got to "The Daily Show," they asked me to have a political opinion--or rather Jon did. When Craig was there, it wasn't so political. Jon asked me to have a political opinion, and it turned out that I had one, but I didn't realize quite how liberal I was until I was asked to make passionate comedic choices as opposed to necessarily successful comedic choices.

Colbert could still tack to the center, in theory, when he takes over Letterman's Late Show slot next year. Jimmy Fallon hardly appeared conservative during his tenure at Late Night, but now the new Tonight Show host is following a more fair and balanced comic line.

Colbert, however, is a far more entrenched political comic, and the chance that he'll skip the chance to use his new, shiny soapbox to promote liberal causes appears unlikely. Consider this part of the Q&A between NPR and Colbert about how he approached his Comedy Central gig:

I mean, Jon has asked us to be political and to share his interest in doing political comedy that actually has some thought behind it, and as a result, if you don't do something that you feel passionately about, if you're not talking in a passionate way about it, you're gonna sound just as false as a politician who's doing a stump speech that is to please his audience and doesn't reflect a dearly held political idea. And more than anything else, we don't want to sound predictable and we don't want to sound--or I don't want to sound like I don't believe what I'm saying.


Follow Christian Toto on Twitter @TotoMovies

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