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My Newfound Admiration for Letterman

I don’t tend to like David Letterman, whom I find by turns too smug and too silly. It is very hard to watch him in the face of a very visceral distaste I feel. Yet I am warmed by the forthright stand he took toward Bill O’Reilly the other night, about which the internet is all abuzz. I have heard excerpts on talk radio. This post, from newsbusters.org (“exposing and countering liberal media bias”), emphasizes his criticism of Bush and of Cindy Sheehan’s detractors, but it appears to me that his ire was most reserved for O’Reilly in particular. O’Reilly is such a supreme egotist that I can imagine the thrill of guesting on Letterman set him up for this; he has only himself to blame:

“Displaying a hostility to President Bush and the Iraq war similar to that expressed by Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, on Tuesday’s Late Show David Letterman went further than I’ve ever heard him in revealing his derision for President Bush’s decision to launch the Iraq war and contempt for anyone who dares to criticize Cindy Sheehan.

Letterman normally tries to make the guest look as good and entertaining as possible. But he greeted FNC’s Bill O’Reilly with disdain. When O’Reilly urged an end to tagging Bush as a “liar,” scolded Cindy Sheehan for calling the insurgents “freedom fighters” and urged people to be “very careful with what we say’ in disparaging others, Letterman took him to task: ‘Well, and you should be very careful with what you say also.’ Letterman demanded: ‘How can you possibly take exception with the motivation and the position of someone like Cindy Sheehan?’ And he tried to discredit O’Reilly’s contention: “Have you lost family members in armed conflict?’ When O’Reilly conceded that ‘no, I have not,’ Letterman castigated him: ‘Well, then you can hardly speak for her, can you?'”