Why Jay Leno Doesn’t Watch the Evening News Anymore

By Brian Flood 

It was abundantly clear to anyone who watched, that during 20 years of Tonight Show monologues Jay Leno was a news junkie. His show openers centered on the news of the day: the people, places and things making headlines.

“The trick is not to know more than everyone else, the trick is to know exactly what everybody else knows,” Leno told TVNewser last night at a party celebrating the premiere of his new CNBC show, Jay Leno’s Garage. “When USA Today, The New York Times, L.A. Times, Huffington Post all have the same headline- great. Now everybody is on the same page. When the news is all over the place and there is no main story, then you have to educate with the jokes and explain what’s happening. The Clinton era was the golden age of comedy, because everybody knows somebody like that. It’s an easy situation to understand so the jokes could flow fairly readily,” said Leno about the secret to his stand-up.

Nowadays, Leno gets most of his news from his iPad, but still watches cable news: “I go to NBC, CNN [websites] – I go to all of them. And I’ll usually have CNBC, MSNBC or CNN on in the background.”

As for broadcast news, the funnyman isn’t a fan.

“I don’t watch traditional 6:30 newscasts anymore. Those don’t really deal with international news. Those are all the lost puppy stories,” Leno told us before being whisked away to meet an ad buyer.

Greeters welcomed guests at the rooftop Press Lounge on Manhattan’s West Side donning denim shirts–a longtime Leno staple. I asked one if they get to keep it. “I wouldn’t want to,” was the answer. The party featured a Virtual Reality ride along, a car-themed photo booth and a variety of CNBC on-air talent, including Brian Sullivan, Joe Kernen, and wife Penelope, David Faber, Sue Herera, Tyler MathisenKayla Tausche, Steve LiesmanMandy DrurySimon HobbsScott Wapner and Landon Dowdy.

We spotted The Blacklist star Hisham Tawfiq out on a patio by himself, gazing at the view of the Manhattan skyline. CNN’s Brian Stelter was seen mingling with CNBC staffers. NBC’s Today show co-host Tamron Hall took the time to pose for a selfie before splitting early, which is understandable considering she was on-air early this morning.

CNBC chairman Mark Hoffman addressed the crowd and offered a memorable line that should probably be the network’s new slogan, “A lot of people are interested in sports. A lot of people are interested in news. A lot of people are interested in food. A lot of people are interested in a lot of things. But everybody is interested in money.”

We noticed CNBC host Jim Cramer taking one last sip of his drink and saying to nobody in particular, “I should probably be up there,” before hustling to stand by his boss. Hoffman played the now-viral video stunt in which Leno pretends to be an Uber driver.

The comic then provided the moment of the night when he joked, “I’m kind of an NBC guy. I’ve been at NBC my whole life. [CNBC] is kind of the step child and it’s nice to meet the other members of the family. My goal is to meet each viewer personally. Right now on CNBC that should be pretty easy to do.”

Jay Leno