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Obama explains 'what the Russians exploited' in new interview with Letterman

13 January 2018

At first, I was disappointed with the premiere of David Letterman's new Netflix show, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction", for what it did NOT do. When Letterman asked which hypothetical was worse for the U.S., the "diminishment ... of [the] press" by the president or "somebody screwing around with the actual voting process", Obama pointed to a lack of shared basic facts as "one of the biggest challenges".

The two sit facing each other in chairs on a stage at City University of NY, with no desk between then and no Paul Shaffer and his band delivering intros and outros, and they essentially discuss historical and biographical material we already know about, and without much depth. Obama observes, "If you watch Fox News, you are living on a different planet than if you listen to NPR" - and you know the former president is speaking in front of a self-selecting, New York City audience because the applause and derisive laughter start after Obama says "Fox News", thus proving his point. Letterman's show, on the other hand, promised to go deeper: intimate, in-depth interviews with whomever Letterman deemed interesting, regardless of the topic of the day.

Former President Barack Obama dispensed some advice for occupants of the Oval Office on Friday: be careful of how you act.

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Sarandos said he hopes Letterman's show will attract more subscribers.

The bridge was also the site of one of Obama's most memorable speeches, delivered on the 50th anniversary of the march. Though Letterman made several allusions toward President Donald Trump, neither he nor Obama ever mentioned him by name as they discussed everything from Obama's routines since leaving the White House and goals for his post-presidency to his family life, with candid reflections on his unusual upbringing and the emotion of seeing the first of his own daughters off to college.

Letterman, meanwhile, seems ecstatic to be back, even beyond launching with such an A-list guest. As Letterman asked Lewis how big of a setback he thinks we're enduring, a photo of the deadly "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia appeared on screen-but Letterman never directly referenced it. My vote, formed after watching his breezy facility during one of his appearances on "Late Show with David Letterman", was that he host a late-night talk show-nothing too glitzy, just an interview show in which he could be a more telegenic version of Tom Snyder or a more regal Dick Cavett. "But she's neater than her sister, so she was helping to make the bed and fold clothes, and just being really quiet about it but in a way that was really moving and touching", he said. After a particularly wonky answer from Obama, Letterman replies: "To hear you describe this in a way that I can understand, just makes me so happy you're still president". "So I get home and she (Malia) knows I'm pathetic, so she's texted me hearts, and, you know, so we are talking on a regular basis". And it's potentially entertaining to see crotchety Dave, with his beard and white socks, remaking himself into a kind of hipster grandpa.

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"Why wasn't I in Alabama?" he asks. "I have been nothing but lucky". And certainly because it's Letterman asking the questions, we should feel nostalgic for a time when candid, insightful and civil interviews played a larger role in television news and the national conversation.

First and foremost, the best thing about My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman is that David Letterman is back.

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Obama explains 'what the Russians exploited' in new interview with Letterman