Jay Leno defended his "Tonight Show"successor in an interview with Tavis Smiley Monday.
Leno said that the attention to Conan O'Brien's ratings woes is "the exact same thing I went through when I took over from Johnny [Carson]."
"Whoever has the job goes through this," Leno said. "It's all part of the growing pains. [Ratings go] down for a while and then [they come] back up again. And I don't think it's fair to judge Conan on what's happened in a month or two....I got beat up for four or five months, and you still go out with your chin up, fight the good fight."
Since taking over from Leno, Conan has seen the "Tonight Show" ratings go from first in the late night ratings to third, behind both CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" and ABC's "Nightline."
"Conan was number one for 17 years in a row in his spot," Leno said. "OK, he moves to another spot, it takes a while to find yourself, and that's what hes going through.