One of the more appalling and wholly predictable spectacles of this general election season is media figures who spent months or years building up Donald Trump’s celebrity profile suddenly arguing that he should be treated as a deplorable monster to be shunned – after he became the Republican presidential nominee. Witness David Letterman, in interview with the New York Times, on Trump mocking a Times reporter last summer:
[I]f 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.”
“If I had a show, I would have gone right after him,” Letterman said. “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?’”He was sharply critical of “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon, who earned scorn and mockery for his softball interview of Trump last month.
This is very easy to say now, with Letterman in retirement and no longer chasing ratings. But in 2012, when Trump refused to go back on Letterman’s show because Letterman had called him a racist over the birther issue, Dave apologized on air:
Trump returned to the show at least twice after that, the second time in January 2015 when Letterman asked Trump about his plans to run for President and the two had a friendly conversation about (among other things) terrorism, crime, trade with China and the benefits of European socialized medicine:
If you were paying attention to Donald Trump over the years, very little of what we’ve seen of him on the campaign trail since mid-2015, and certainly since he won the nomination, is news. But media figures who dined out on Trump ratings for years are suddenly shocked, shocked to find Donald Trump in this establishment.