David Letterman Confronts Kim Kardashian West About Working With Trump
Adam Rose / Netflix
David Letterman knows how to make a splash. In three seasons of his Netflix interview series "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction" - the last of which falls this Wednesday - the former host of the Late Show landed an extremely famous guest for every premiere episode.
The first President Barack Obama came for the first time in early 2018 and gave his most in-depth on-camera interview since leaving office for the long-bearded letterman. Last year season two began with a fiery meeting with Kanye West, who both said he felt "bullied" by liberals for supporting Trump and admitted that he had never voted in his life. "Then you don't have a say," Letterman replied to cheer a crowd that included the rapper's wife, Kim Kardashian West.
Kanye West shoots back at David Letterman: Liberal "bully" Trump supporters like me
Now it's up to the reality show for the star fashion mogul to take to the stage with Letterman for another fascinating conversation about the season three opening.
Letterman begins the interview, recorded earlier this year, before the coronavirus pandemic began, by admonishing the Kardashian clan to be late to the theater. "Oh for God's sake the show isn't on the show?" he asks jokingly when Kris Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian arrive. An empty seat next to Jenner will soon be occupied by an even later Kanye West.
The interview itself starts off with really weird questions from Letterman about hair extensions before the host actually makes some kind of apology for making fun of Keeping Up With The Kardashians in his late-show monologues. "Well, here we are and we are not laughing now," he says, referring to the overwhelming success her family has achieved. He also dislikes the whole notion that Kardashian is "famous for being famous" because he admits that there is some ability to put on a show like hers.
"SNL" mocks the Wild Trump Town Hall of its own network
From there, things quickly turn to more substantive issues, including her father's role in the O.J. Simpson trial - she still won't say whether she thinks he was guilty out of respect for his children - and Kardashian's recent crusade as an advocate for prison reform. Which, of course, leads to her unlikely alliance with President Donald Trump.
"Hopefully I'll work with the White House for the next several administrations and help them with clemencies," Kardashian said when a photo of her and Alice Johnson, the woman she personally persuaded the President to serve, appears on screen commuting, in the Oval Office with Trump.
Clearly unhappy with the idea of endorsing Trump's image, Letterman then asks, "But do you believe that what is being done now about this current administration in the name of condemning reform is in some way the balance of democracy in a corridor which allows viability again? "
It's a horribly phrased, nonsensical question that evokes the only logical answer from its guest, who replies, "Well, I have no idea what you just said."
After the laughter and applause subsided, Letterman tries another route. "I'm grateful for what you are doing, but I don't feel any better about the current administration," he says. But, as she has done repeatedly over the past few years, Kardashian refuses to say a bad word about the man in the White House, just telling him, "I get that."
She won't even tell Letterman who she voted for in the presidential election. She sits in silence and says: "I know who I agree with." Although the interview was taped before Joe Biden completed the Democratic nomination and before Kanye West officially threw his MAGA hat in the ring, the obvious implication is who has the best chance of beating Trump.
"Trust me, everyone has called and said, 'Don't you dare enter the White House or your reputation has failed," says Kardashian, arguing that it was a small price to pay to save people's lives who would otherwise die in prison.
"But you see, your good work is overwhelming," admits Letterman. "It's a positive force that diminishes what I consider unacceptable behavior on the part of the president."
Rather than agreeing that there was such "unacceptable behavior", Kardashian simply says that she is "extremely grateful" for the government's work on criminal justice reform and that she will focus on what it can achieve.
“Why don't I feel this way? I may not be as good as you?” Asks Letterman in response, before realizing that he may have hit a dead end and move on to other issues. Their conversation culminated in a truly harrowing account of the 2016 Paris heist that Kardashian said she was sure she would die.
As the hour progresses, Letterman's apparent affection for Kardashian is evident. Ultimately, he tells her that she is "coming out on the right side of everything". But he is also clearly concerned about their utter refusal to criticize Trump, whom he has known for decades should never have received the power of the presidency.
Months after her interview, Alice Johnson appeared as spokeswoman for the Republican National Convention. But while she thanked the president extensively for commuting her sentence, she specifically declined to endorse him for a second term. Like Kardashian, Johnson told CNN's Jake Tapper that she was "focused" on this narrow mission and that she obviously didn't want to say anything that could hurt Trump's ego.
As a reality show star, Kardashian knows that Trump cares much more about being liked than about actually helping people so that she wouldn't reveal the slightest hint of disapproval. Letterman has become a world-class interviewer in its new longer format, but even he couldn't make her break.
Alice Johnson refuses to endorse Trump on CNN after RNC speech
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