By Laura Bradley. Photos: Getty Images.
As late-night continues to pummel Donald Trump, one of the field’s most legendary players, David Letterman—who also happens to have a long history with the president—has chimed in to remind us why late-night commentary will remain vital in the years to come. In fact, as the former Late Show host put it, comedians have “an obligation” to bash Trump.
“Comedy’s one of the ways that we can protect ourselves [from Trump],” Letterman said in a fascinating [New York](http://www.vulture.com/2017/03/david-letterman-in-conversation.html) interview published Sunday. “Alec Baldwin deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sadly, he’s not going to get it from this president.”
When asked to explain how satire might protect the U.S. from Trump, the longtime baseball fan employed a canny analogy:
I remember there was a baseball game in Cleveland, and a swarm of flies came on the field and the batters were doing this [*mimes swatting at flies*] while the pitcher was throwing 100 miles an hour. Well, that’s Alec Baldwin and Saturday Night Live. It’s distracting the batter. Eventually Trump’s going to take a fastball off the sternum and have to leave the game.
When asked whether he might understand why some comedians would be reluctant to tackle Trump, Letterman simply replied, “I think you have an obligation.”
At that point, the conversation turned more explicitly to Jimmy Fallon, who found himself in hot water last year after getting a little too cozy with Trump in his on-air interview just one month before Election Day. Letterman, who has quietly jabbed Fallon over that interview in the past, noted that Tonight has a history with viewing itself as counter-programming to harrowing, widely covered current events—drawing a comparison to Johnny Carson’s “unstated policy” to never mention the Vietnam War. Still, he didn’t back down from his assertion that comedians have a duty to uphold.
“We used to have a joke we’d do about booking guests,” Letterman said: “ ‘Guess what?’ ‘What?’ ‘Neil Armstrong is going to be on the show.’ ‘Neil Armstrong? That’s fantastic.’ ‘He doesn’t want to talk about the moon.’ I don’t want to criticize Jimmy Fallon, but I can only tell you what I would have done in that situation: I would have gone to work on Trump.”
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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