Here's How David Letterman Would Have Handled Donald Trump

October 7th 2016

Almie Rose

In September, "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon received a lot of backlash for his gentle, if not downright buddy-buddy treatment of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The argument presented on Twitter was that although talk show hosts are usually where politicians go to get a free pass, Trump is an exception because of his racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic comments and actions, along with blatantly false statements that he's used to support his campaign.

Many pointed to former "Late Show" host David Letterman as an example of a late-night host who was unafraid to confront Trump on issues the former reality TV host would prefer to avoid, like when Letterman pointed out that Trump's ties are actually made in China and not the United States.

In an interview with The New York Times, Letterman once again held nothing back in describing his thoughts on Trump and how he would have handled the divisive candidate compared to how Fallon did.


When interviewing Donald Trump, Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman had very different approaches.

Posted by ATTN: Video on Friday, September 16, 2016


"I would make fun of his hair"

Before Trump was a presidential candidate, he was just another punch-line on a talk show, according to Letterman, who referred to him as the "big, blowhard billionaire" that New York City "needed." He continues:

"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."

"So now, he decides he’s running for president."

Letterman explains the shift in Trump and how he was handled by the media that happened almost immediately after his run:

"And right out of the box, he goes after immigrants and how they’re drug dealers and they’re rapists. 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."

"How would you handle Trump as a guest now?" the Times asked.

And while of course he doesn't have a show now, and hindsight is 20/20, Letterman's response left little room for interpretation:

"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 not 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."

[h/t New York Times]