Letterman vs. McCain, Round 2

Davidlettermanparis_lYou’d think the David Letterman-John McCain mini-feud would have blown over after a day, with both sides having better things to do (McCain had an economy to fix, Dave had to interview Paris Hilton), but on Thursday, neither side was shutting up about it. On the candidate’s side, his spokesperson Nicolle Wallace went on NBC’s Today and claimed the senator had bowed out of the Late Show at the last minute because he "felt this wasn’t a night for comedy." Which was not the false excuse McCain had given Letterman. He’d told Dave he needed to fly to Washington right away to help solve the economic crisis, but he actually remained in New York until the next day and had been getting his face made up for an interview with Katie Couric during the Letterman taping he’d skipped, as Dave revealed via live feed. For his part, Letterman continued zinging McCain for weaseling out on him on a way that seemed inconsistent with his straight-talking war hero reputation. (Watch the meat of Letterman’s mean but funny diatribe here.) Dave even brought up McCain’s snub in passing during his chat with Hilton, who mentioned having been dissed by McCain herself.

Meanwhile, the fallout continued. Reaction was apparently mixed at CBS; Letterman employee Craig Ferguson backed his boss in this Late Late Show monologue, while CBS News staffers were reportedly livid that Letterman had embarrassed McCain (and, by proxy, Couric) by hijacking their feed. More than one pundit has suggested (here and here, for instance) that Dave’s continued lampooning of McCain could have a real-world political effect; not that Dave’s rants will persuade voters to pull the lever for Obama, but they could make voters see McCain in a less flattering light. A more cynical view suggests that Letterman will keep milking this feud for as long as he can, as he did his one-sided feud with Oprah, culminating in an eventual conciliatory visit from the senator which Letterman and CBS will hype for ratings, after which all will be forgiven, and Dave will go back to making jokes about George W. Bush’s stupidity and Bill Clinton’s libido (still comedy gold, even all these years later).

What do you think, PW-ers? Will Letterman’s continued pounding have an effect on potential McCain voters? Is he just drawing this disagreement out for ratings’ sake, or does he have a valid complaint? And if it is valid, has Dave gone from legitimately aggrieved to merely petty and petulant, or is his lampooning of the candidate still funny?

Comments (279 total) Add your comment
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  • GOB

    I understand that Letterman felt snubbed and maybe he needed to vent a little, but it’s getting out of hand. Dave’s version of “McCain is immediately flying off to Washington” is not necessarily the actual truth, but more likely his version of what happened. The “it’s not a night for comedy” excuse from McCain’s camp is not necessarily the whole truth either, but a true sentiment, anyway. If Dave doesn’t see the difference between McCain showing up on Late Show vs. sitting down for an interview with a hard news program (although I can’t stand Katie), it’s time to hang up the microphone, Dave. It’s a stressful, ugly and urgent time for our country and a late night comedy show is no place for a presidential candidate at the moment. It’s time for Dave to shut up about it, and it’s time for McCain and the rest of Washington to start making some smart decisions, fast.

  • JLK

    He is acting like a 2 year old throwing a tantrum. Grow up Dave. It wasn’t funny the first night and is even less so now. I think his lack of ratings is getting to him.

  • James C

    I think this is the best stuff Letterman has done in years. Keep it up, Dave!

  • JT

    Letterman still has a show?

  • fancypants

    still funny

  • HER

    I’m appalled that McCain or the McCain camp would allow a lie like this to occur. Integrity and honesty is of paramount importance to me, and as a decades-long Republican who just hasn’t been able to get behind my party’s candidate, this is a HUGE black mark for McCain. It’s not about not going on Letterman, it’s that he lied about it, and that speaks volumes to me about his integrity and trustworthiness. I don’t blame Dave for his ranting – McCain deserves every embarrassment it may cause. He made his own bed, now he can LIE in it.

  • Tammy

    McCain lied. Again. Dave busted him on national TV. GO DAVE.

  • JB

    Remember the effect Chevy Chase had on Gerald Ford’s election.

  • Scott Mann

    Oh boo hoo. Who cares what Letterman says anyway? Network television is dying. He is a has been that never was. So, Dave, you think you know how a battle-tested hero is supposed to act? You haven’t got a clue. McCain owes you nothing except the loathing that you and all Hollyweed so richly deserves. You are not fit to lick the man’s boots. Get over yourself. You’ll never be another Carson.

  • JD

    Watch the first clip again. Dave’s main point has nothing to do with the snub. He thinks it’s ridiculous that McCain would talk about suspending the campaign. (“You don’t *suspend a campaign!*”) By cutting to Couric, he’s not complaining about being snubbed. He’s pointing out that McCain gave him a phony excuse and then didn’t suspend his camapign at all, but went on national TV to call attention to his virtue. Par for the course.

  • Anonymous

    Dave WHO????

  • Gary

    GO Dave. Keep it up.

  • AL

    still funny man, very funny.

  • Alex

    It’s a freakin comedy show. How dumb do you have to be to cancel last minute on a comedy show? You are inevitably going to get clowned. McCain is an idiot and deserves all the ribbing. As long as it’s funny, and so far it has been, Dave should keep doing it.

  • Angie

    McCain brought it upon himself. Everything that Dave does brings upon its own consequent as well. If people feels his ranting is too much, they will switch off. In the end, it is a fair game with proportional outcome. McCain did lie and that’s the bone of the matter. His knee-jerk decision-making process continues to be borne out on a daily basis. Cancelling of the Letterman appointment, getting on a Katie Couric segment, suspending the campaign, postponing the debate, then agreeing to debate, saying Palin is more qualified than Obama, then refusing to let Palin do what leaders do ie talk to the press, the list goes on.

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