Conan O'Brien's fraught exit from NBC almost a year ago still weighs all-too-heavily on his mind, writes Laura Bennett in The New Republic. Indeed, a month into his new talk show on cable station TBS, he's still peppering his nightly chatter with references to the network that ousted him from "The Tonight Show." This "slide into chronic self-referentiality" is not only "patently offensive," given his massive, $30 million payoff from NBC, it's turning Conan into a terrible late-night host, argues Bennett. Here's an excerpt:

When O'Brien riffs on his diminished paycheck or the lowbrow nature of basic cable, it’s uncomfortable to watch him. This doesn’t jive with the spirit of the late-night talk show, which aims to make viewers feel privy to a cozy, casual chat. Johnny Carson excelled at the business of putting his guests—and thus his viewers—at ease. His jokes were chummy and he never stole the spotlight. Even Jay Leno built his brand on providing a kind of backdrop for flashier personalities. It might not be fun to watch Leno, but it is comfortable. His style is unobtrusive. O’Brien, sitting beside a celebrity guest, is a competing spectacle.

Read the entire article in The New Republic