Here is how David Letterman ended the very first episode of Late Night With David Letterman, back on Feb. 1, 1982:
Here now to close our show is Mr. Steve Fessler, a guy from Brooklyn who for some reason has committed to memory all the dialogue of the 2½-hour classic B-film Bowery at Midnight, starring Bela Lugosi. So now, for those of you who would really rather be watching old movies at this time of night—I know I would—please welcome Steve Fessler.
Then Fessler came out and recited Bowery at Midnight until the credits rolled. Here is how Seth Meyers ended his “Closer Look” segment on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018:
This election has made clear what the modern GOP has become: a party that traffics in open racism and sells its voters culture war rhetoric while enriching themselves at taxpayer’s expense. They’re hoping racist fearmongering will distract you while they rob you. And they’re hoping you won’t care if the president is a crazy lunatic.
Different times! Here’s Meyers breaking down the President’s “all-in on white supremacy” electoral message while criticizing his own network, NBC, for helping to spread it:
But beyond noting how much television has changed over the last 36 years—Letterman criticized his corporate parent for their fruit basket delivery policy, not for their “taking money from the president to air shockingly racist ads during the closing days of a midterm campaign” policy—it remains notable and praiseworthy that Meyers is taking the current moment seriously and acting accordingly. Letterman’s corporate parent had a fruit basket delivery policy; NBC has a “taking money from the president to air shockingly racist ads during the closing days of a midterm campaign” policy. (Meyers is also filling a niche that the Democratic Party has abandoned; imagine Pelosi or Schumer saying anything as direct and accurate as “They’re hoping racist fearmongering will distract you while they rob you.”) Until and unless the United States gets past the immediate existential threat caused by one party’s open embrace of lies and racial hatred, we should all be commandeering any microphone we can get our hands on. The second that’s done, though, Late Night should recommit itself to dropping bowling balls onto used cars from great heights, at least for a few weeks. We could all use it.