Former late night host David Letterman appeared on Today, Friday, to preview the new season of his Netflix series and to bash Donald Trump. Asked by NBC’s Willie Geist if he missed his old CBS Late Show, Letterman said no and admitted he would be really “ugly” to Trump if still on the air.
The host explained how he would handle Trump: “My approach would have been head on. And probably inelegant. Probably really inelegant.” Letterman added, “The worst that can happen is now you would say something for which you would have to apologize. And I would never forgive myself if I said something so ugly that somebody would say, ‘You know, you gotta apologize.’”
Letterman concluded of Trump: “You can’t apologize to this guy.” The late night host has a history of saying “ugly things” and being forced to apologize. In 2009, he controversially made a sex joke about a Yankee baseball player impregnating Sarah Palin’s then 14-year-old daughter.
Why did he eventually apologize? He told Oprah Winfrey in 2013 it was so he could keep mocking Palin:
I’ll tell you why I apologized. I felt like Sarah Palin was somebody I wanted to continue to be able to make fun of and I felt like if I don’t apologize, if I don’t sincerely express my regret, I will not be able to go forward making fun of her.
In contrast, Letterman fell in love with the “impressive” Barack Obama, gushing, “You can feel the electricity in the room.”
Asked on Friday about the nasty late night hosts that followed him (Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel), Letterman praised, “The people who are in charge now do a really good job of it.”
A transcript of the exchange can be found below. Click “expand” to read more:
8:12 AM ET
WILLIE GEIST: Since you left late night, there's a new president of the United States. You may have noticed. Do you miss being on late night for that fact?
DAVID LETTERMAN: No. Because — well, first of all, the people who are in charge now do a really good job of it.
GEIST: How would you approach it?
LETTERMAN: My approach would have been head on. And probably inelegant. Probably really inelegant. And I would say things — the worst that can happen is now you would say something for which you would have to apologize. And I would never forgive myself if I said something so ugly that somebody would say, “You know, you gotta apologize.” I just — you can’t apologize to this guy.