David Letterman believes Donald Trump deserves to be “shunned” because of his controversial behavior on the presidential campaign trail. “Right out of the box, he goes after immigrants and how they’re drug dealers and they’re rapists. And everybody swallows hard,” the former Late Show host told The New York Times. “And they think, oh, well, somebody”ll 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 said that in his Late Show days, the “big, blowhard billionaire” was the “perfect guest”: “Nobody took him seriously, and people loved him when he would come on the show,” he said. “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.”
Now, with Trump as the GOP nominee, Letterman’s opinion has changed. The late-night legend still believes the Republican will get “crushed in the general election.” He credits the campaign’s endurance to people’s amusement. “Nobody wanted the circus to pull up and leave town,” he said.
“If I had a show, I would have gone right after him,” Letterman explained. “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?’ … 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.”
Letterman’s full New York Times interview promotes his upcoming return to TV for an India-based episode of National Geographic’s climate change series Years of Living Dangerously.
This isn’t the former late-night king’s first time firing verbal shots at Trump. In a June interview with Tom Brokaw, Letterman called the Republican “despicable” and “repugnant.”