In an interview conducted this week, David Letterman clarified his position on Donald Trump, who was a frequent guest on Letterman’s late-night shows over the years. The New York Times reports that Letterman said he considers Trump “a damaged human being” and “a person to be shunned.”
Letterman did have fond memories of Trump’s appearances on his show: “I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time and I always thought he was exactly what New York City needed to have: the big, blowhard billionaire. ‘By God, I’m Donald Trump and I date models and I put up buildings, and everything is gold.’ Nobody took him seriously, and people loved him when he would come on the show. I would make fun of his hair, I would call him a slumlord, I would make fun of his ties. And he could just take a punch like nothing. He was the perfect guest.”
But with Trump running for president, the mood changed.
“Right out of the box, he goes after immigrants and how they’re drug dealers and they’re rapists,” Letterman said. “And everybody swallows hard. And they think, oh, well, somebody will take him aside and say, ‘Don, don’t do that.’ But it didn’t happen. And then, I can remember him doing an impression, behind a podium, of a reporter for The New York Times who has a congenital disorder. And then I thought, if this was somebody else — if this was a member of your family or a next-door neighbor, a guy at work — you would immediately distance yourself from that person. And that’s what I thought would happen. 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.”
Letterman added: “I kept telling people he will absolutely not get elected. And then David Brooks said he’ll get the nomination and he will be crushed in the general election. And I thought: Yeah, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I stand by that. The thing about Trumpy was, I think people just were amused enough about him to keep him afloat in the polls, because nobody wanted the circus to pull up and leave town.”
The report notes that a segment from Letterman’s CBS “Late Show” from 2012, in which Letterman confronts Trump about outsourcing his Macy’s clothing line, has become a part of Hillary Clinton’s campaign advertising.
Asked for his reaction to the Clinton ad, Letterman said: “I was pleased. I felt like I still have a small voice in this. I thought it was good. Slowly but surely, everybody got sucked into this vortex. ‘Did you hear what Donald Trump said?’ And everything downstream got worse and worse. Poor Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets sucked into it, and I’m thinking, Oh, don’t take the bait, ma’am. Then she says so-and-so and she has to apologize. Kids, if you turn off the light, the moths will stop coming.”