Late Night Production Exec: 'Dave Is Wearing His Views on His Sleeve Now'

In case you hadn't gotten enough of Barack Obama plugging ObamaCare on any of the five Sunday talk shows yesterday, your eyes can continue to glaze over tonight when the President appears on David Letterman tonight to continue his seemingly endless shill routine. And if you think Letterman somehow bowed to White House pressure to allow Obama on to continue talking about a subject that many are already growing weary about, think again. This was actually Dave's idea according a story in the New York Times:

Mr. Obama, of course, famously was the first sitting president to visit any late-night entertainment show when he dropped by “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” in March. The Letterman bookers have been diligent ever since in arguing for some fair play — and equal booking — for their guy.

Not enough liberal Democrat politicians for you? Not to worry. The following night Letterman will have another one on his show:

Mr. Obama’s visit, to be followed on Tuesday night by another guest of note, former President Bill Clinton, happens to dovetail with a larger strategy for “The Late Show With David Letterman.” The comedian has been reshaping his program around a longer, more ambitious, more politically pointed monologue — the kind viewers associate more with that long-running late-night show on NBC. 

David Letterman's move to Democrat shill is explained:

“When he began in television, Letterman was virtually apolitical,” said Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse. “Now he’s moved to the point where he could be called a political comedian.”

In case you're wondering if Letterman will even make the pretense of  appearing neutral, a late-night production executive sets us straight:

Certainly, Mr. Letterman has not hesitated to hurl more comedy thunderbolts at subjects like Ms. Palin and former Vice President Dick Cheney. One longtime late-night production executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of associations with competing programs, said: “Dave is wearing his views on his sleeve now. Is he going out on a limb? Why not? What’s he got to lose?” 

What's he got to lose? Um, how about ratings? Somehow your humble correspondent doesn't think that the average viewer, having been pounded by politics all day and into the evening, would be enthusiastic to watch Dave discuss the intricacies of health care reform on his Late Night show. And why does Letterman want to risk boring his audience? Possibly because he thinks this is a good way to imitate Johnny Carson:

Mr. Thompson saw a broader context for the increase in political commentary on the show. “Letterman, as he redefines himself as more political,” he said, “is positioning himself as Carson-esque, by way of ‘The Daily Show.’ He wants to emerge as the reigning late-night choice for the audience that used to watch the ‘Tonight Show’ for political humor.”

Johnny Carson, almost two decades after he left the air, remains the gold standard for late-night topical monologues. And “The Daily Show” is now the circus maximus for pointed political comedy on television.

If this is what Letterman thinks, he sure has it wrong. People definitely did not watch Johnny Carson mainly for the political humor. Sure, he did political jokes in the opening monologue but the main reason people watched Carson was for the terrific entertainment such as the time when Bob Hope, Dean Martin, and George Gobel appeared as guests on his show.

Yes, Johnny Carson had politicians on his show but their appearances were infrequent and he definitely did not wear his  views on his sleeve. So if David Letterman really wanted to be like Johnny Carson, perhaps he should add comedian Don Rickles as a guest to sit on the couch with Obama. Now that would be a definite ratings winner. 

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.