Former late-night host David Letterman excoriated Donald Trump in a brief interview in the New York Times Friday, calling the Republican presidential candidate a “damaged human being” who should be “shunned.”
Letterman — who came out of retirement last year to mock Trump with a “Top 10” list — called Trump a “perfect” late-night guest who could “take a punch like nothing,” but said he never expected the billionaire real estate developer to get so far in the presidential race.
The 69-year-year-old retired comic thought Trump would be undone when he called some illegal immigrants from Mexico drug dealers and rapists while announcing his run for the presidency, and later allegedly mocked a reporter for a physical disability.
“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,” Letterman told the Times. “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 also blamed the media’s influence for Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries.
“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,” he said.
In his interview — timed to promote his appearance in the upcoming season of National Geographic series Years of Living Dangerously, which focuses on the effects of climate change — Letterman took aim at current late-night host Jimmy Fallon, star of NBC’s The Tonight Show, who came under fire last month from critics who accused him of going too easy on Trump in a recent TV interview.
“If I had a show, I would have gone right after him,” Letterman told the paper. “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,” Letterman conceded. “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.”
Read Letterman’s interview with the Times here.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum