Ellen DeGeneres is no longer the queen of the hill on daytime TV, but the hill was never very high

Ellen DeGeneres arrives for the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California on January 5, 2020.

Jordan Strauss / The Associated Press

Big news. Ellen DeGeneres has entered the weightless phase of ratings free fall following her recent troubles. According to the New York Times, a million fewer people watch their talk show every day. That means roughly 40 percent of their total audience has evaporated.

The theory is that a series of breathless stories about DeGeneres’ TV personality (the “Be Kind” lady) compared to her actual personality (more like, “I told you it was a DECAF Americano, you IDIOT” lady) ) cost her the public’s affection.

In terms of ratings, she is no longer with Entertainment Olympus, battling titans like Dr. Phil and Ryan Seacrest. Now she’s down in the valley, renting weekly with Maury Povich and Kelly Clarkson.

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When you read about DeGeneres’ professional troubles, the obvious question that comes to mind is, “Maury Povich still alive?” The man looked like the cryptkeeper in the 90s. I mean, it’s well put together. He’s a handsome guy. But is he still walking? Hasn’t he built a house out of money yet? Doesn’t he want to retire there and enjoy whatever comes after your golden years?

And you have to kid me: Kelly Clarkson (American Idol’s, I suspect) is on a daytime TV show? What is included Will she take out the soundtrack for Evita for an hour? Who would see this Apparently a million people every day.

The real winger is Steve Wilkos. You remember the bald security guy from the Jerry Springer Show, don’t you? (Bonus points for a well-lived life if you don’t.) He was the one who rushed on stage when a paternity test failed (that is, every time) to keep everyone from killing each other. This is Steve Wilkos. He’s got a show. Apparently people see that when given the choice between repeating Judy Judy and repeating it. It’s incredible.

Who are these viewers? Are you our neighbors? If so, stow some things in the car because we are leaving at midnight. The satellite signal cannot reach us somewhere.

The core theme of daytime TV is that there is a time in your life for it, and it doesn’t include productive adulthood.

Your post-secondary education. That is a high point on television during the day. The great thing about studying something useless like political science and / or journalism is that you don’t have to go to class. It’s right there in the curriculum – “None of this matters. Don’t bother to come. “

You can get up at noon, sit in front of the TV for six or seven hours and by then the sun is shining over the yard so you know what that means. This way you will find the inner resources to watch five soap operas a day. It is not easy. But I am here to tell you that it is possible.

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This is your daily TV demographics: university-aged no-hoppers, people with no constructive hobbies, Russian bot-farmers who want to sharpen their memes, and prisoners.

DeGeneres didn’t elevate the medium. Don’t give her so much credit. You and I could also give Hyundais away on TV if someone just gave us the Hyundais to do that with. We can also tell beautiful people how beautiful they are, but not in a creepy way. Just don’t stare. That’s the trick.

Bring in some three-legged pets, cry once in a while over the state of the world, and you, sir, have a TV show a day of your own. The barrier to entry is so low.

Daytime TV was an entertainment dumpster before DeGeneres came along, and it will be this long before she’s gone. The hosts who survived in it – your Maury Poviches – know what they are and what they do. They understand who their people are. This is one key to life that they don’t teach in journalism school (or maybe not. I wasn’t there): find your people and be loyal to them.

You could go to Maury Povich on the street and offer him half a vodka, half a Mountain Dew Big Gulp, and he would be happy to take it. He’d take it and never let him keep stuffing a tetanus shot in his assistant’s Gucci backpack, just in case.

DeGeneres’ mistake wasn’t mean to little people. It allowed her to despise her audience – much less so than little people.

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She had convinced herself that her people were the bright young things that show up on her show. She failed to realize that no matter how much she pays, however lavish her lifestyle, she is still just a journalist. How can you know Because she’s the one asking questions.

Journalists hang out with the famous, but however large their audience, they can never be (Oprah Winfrey and Maureen Dowd are the exceptions that prove this rule).

After being beaten up online and in the tabloids, DeGeneres tried to apologize. It wasn’t good. One of those, “I’m sorry you’re so sensitive, but have you ever thought about how I feel?” Excuse me.

You can’t fool a television audience with something like that during the day. They have seen a million false excuses – they are built on television during the day. They also know who to apologize to. It’s not all production assistants and baristas that drove you to despair. It is them.

That’s what DeGeneres is reversing. It’s not that people don’t think they’re nice anymore. It is that they no longer believe that she is one of them. Somewhere along the way it changed. She broke trust in her people and now they are leaving them. Just like in the Bible.

In the future, TV talk show moderators who are under pressure during the day will know how to lean into their problems. Challenge the audience to join them in a war against the elites who are trying to bring us all down. I am you and you are me I got the polygraph to prove it. That’s how Maury would play it.

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