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This summer, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve overheard a line like, “Oh, I love Conan, but to be honest, I haven’t been watching [The Tonight Show].” Conan’s ratings, which continue to fall and have been widely scrutinized in the media, reflect this trend. Today, it was announced that The Late Show with David Letterman has bested The Tonight Show for four consecutive weeks, a record dating back to 1995. What I find curious about these aforementioned statements from fans, besides their frequency, is that so often they express guilt. Many 20somethings share a bond with Conan O’Brien incomparable to any late night host, and by not watching, it stings of geek treason. But these lounging confessions also pack a subtle tinge of Nikki Finke-like cutthroat satisfaction, and this is what I find most worrisome in terms of the long haul. Why is this?

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