‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ That is what British Lord John Actin said. The question is: was Donald Trump corrupted by his wealth before he came to office, or did being president cause his corruption to explode? People who knew him before his rise in politics might have the answer.
The host of NBC’s long-running Late Night with David Letterman (11 years) and CBS’s The Late Show with David Letterman (22 years) had Trump as his guest on average once a year for 33 years. Letterman now hosts Netflix’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.
Although one of the kings of late night television enjoyed having POTUS come on his show, he said that he did not like the man any longer. In a rare The Hollywood Reporter’s Award Chatter podcast, Letterman was surprised how often he had hosted the man:
‘More than 30? “Wow! You’re welcome, America.” I think he just liked being on TV. I had no sense that he was the soulless bastard that he’s turned into.’
Letterman continued, noting that there was a “realDonald (sic)” and the current “soulless bastard:”
‘Everybody says, “Oh, wouldn’t you like to talk to Donald Trump (today)?” And I would. I would just like to say, “Don, it’s Dave. Remember me? I want to talk to the realDonald Trump.”‘
The talk show host said he cannot tell the two Donald Trumps apart:
‘Because I now don’t know which is the real Donald Trump, and if the Donald Trump that I was talking to (back then) was the real Donald Trump, how do you get to be the guy he is now? Politics notwithstanding — let’s just say everything is great and he’s done a great job, but he still behaves the way he behaves — who behaves like that?!’
The New York Times reported:
‘Mr. Letterman and Mr. Trump had such an amiable rapport that they could disagree heatedly without rancor. No conversation illustrates their kinship better than Mr. Trump’s first appearance after Mr. Letterman, facing a blackmail threat, confessed to having affairs with staff members. On the show, Mr. Trump always expressed sympathy for whatever famous man was then battling scandal, including Mike Tyson, Rod Blagojevich and Woody Allen.’
In speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Letterman added:
‘What we need now is somebody like myself to sit down with him and calmly get him to sign some papers and then have him leave the White House.’
Then, Letterman continued, pointing out that the old Donald Trump was “the boob of New York.” Now after he became president, he went “(P)sychotic, is that putting too fine a point on it?”
‘He used to be kind of like the boob of New York that pretended to be wealthy, or we thought was wealthy, and now he’s just a psychotic. Is that putting too fine a point on it? I don’t even care if it’s recorded, I would just like to talk to the guy, because, as I said before, he knows me, I know him — what the hell went wrong?!’