The world could really use David Letterman right now. The prickly Late Show host wouldn’t entertain bobbing for apples or singing in a car with Donald Trump — he would have “gone right after him.” That’s what Letterman, who’s making his return to television in National Geographic Channel’s Years of Living Dangerously, told the New York Times in a wide-ranging interview where a certain “race-baiting demagogue” came up multiple times.
Letterman used to enjoy having Trump on his show — he was “exactly what New York City needed to have: the big, blowhard billionaire.” No one took him seriously, and Letterman would mock his goofy hair or make him super uncomfortable. But then Trump decided to run for president, and “right out of the box, he goes after immigrants and how they’re drug dealers and they’re rapists. And everybody swallows hard.” When Trump mocked a reporter with a congenital disorder, that had to be the end of his campaign, Letterman thought, because “if you can do that in a national forum, that says to me that you are a damaged human being. If you can do that, and not apologize, you’re a person to be shunned.” Nearly a year later, Trump’s still going strong.
When asked how he would handle Trump as a guest now, Letterman said, “If I had a show, I would have gone right after him. I would have said something like, ‘Hey, nice to see you. Now, let me ask you: What gives you the right to make fun of a human who is less fortunate, physically, than you are?’ And maybe that’s where it would have ended. Because I don’t know anything about politics. I don’t know anything about trade agreements. I don’t know anything about China devaluing the yuan. But if you see somebody who’s behaving like any other human you’ve known, that means something. They need an appointment with a psychiatrist. They need a diagnosis and they need a prescription.” He probably wouldn’t tousle his hair, either.