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David Letterman's Netflix show reveals how he's evolved from "sexist" interviews with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton

  • The buzz over Framing Britney Spears last month prompted several of Letterman's old Late Show clips to go viral, including a 2013 interview with Lohan that has been deemed "horrifying." In the past week, Hilton also recalled Letterman's "cruel" treatment of her after watching the Britney documentary. "Of course, that’s after viewing it through our 2021, #FreeBritney-branded woke glasses," says Kevin Fallon. "Now more than then, when the interview actually played as funny, you can’t help but admire how well Lohan handled herself. She’s remarkable. But also, I worked in entertainment journalism at the time. I remember that this interview didn’t just escape criticism for being sexist. It was actually lauded. Letterman’s interview skills were celebrated for getting her to 'go there.' He got the scoop every media outlet was after: Lohan talking about rehab. It was a triumph, not a scandal. The same can be said about his interview with Hilton, which has often been exalted as one of the greatest late-night interviews of all time—a designation we’d cringe at now. That is why it’s not exactly fair to place the blame on Letterman, who truly is one of the best celebrity interviewers and does have a knack for what’s become a lost art form in the increasingly PR-staged and vapid talk-show interview format. We were all entrenched in the deplorable mindset that this was OK, blinded to reality because we were all enjoying the amoral delusion." Fallon points out, however, that Letterman appears to have evolved and recognized his behavior -- as shown in his My Next Guest Needs No Introduction interview with Kim Kardashian, which starts with somewhat of a mea culpa. “Years and years ago I, and I think I was not alone about this, probably joked about you and your show,” Letterman told Kardashian. “Because I didn’t know. And that’s what I get paid to do, make jokes about that stuff. Everybody did. And here we are, and we’re not laughing now.” Fallon adds: "Every moment of the Kardashian conversation feels like a Letterman interview. But it doesn’t feel like those Letterman interviews. It’s a testament, to me, to how it’s not a stretch for the media to still function as the media—probing and interested in scandal—without reverting to lecherous and abusive old patterns. Yes, there are fundamental, systemic changes that have to be made. But small calibrations can be seismic, too. Letterman is an interesting figure to be at the center of this post-Framing Britney Spears discourse about the media’s misogyny."

    TOPICS: David Letterman, Netflix, Late Show with David Letterman, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton