Barack Obama Is in His Element on David Letterman's New Netflix Series

Barack Obama Is in His Element on David Letterman's New Netflix Series

Barack Obama Is in His Element on David Letterman's New Netflix Series

Americans are living in partisan "bubbles" that worsen political divisions and reinforce biases, former President Barack Obama told David Letterman in a rare extended interview. It is the first time Letterman is hosting a TV show since he left the "Late Night" in 2015.

In one section of the interview, Letterman does ask Obama, in a roundabout way, about the the threat of possible Russian meddling in the last presidential election. Though Letterman made several allusions toward President Donald Trump, neither he nor Obama ever mentioned him by name as they discussed everything from Obama's routines since leaving the White House and goals for his post-presidency to his family life, with candid reflections on his unusual upbringing and the emotion of seeing the first of his own daughters off to college. Not only did the company pull Letterman out of retirement, but it bought Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" series last year and released two Dave Chappelle stand-up specials on New Year's Eve. "This debut episode of "My Next Guest" was not scintillating television by any stretch". It was a long-evolving process and you could say it was sped up either by his heart surgery or the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but those are easy markers.

"What's changed I think from when we were kids is technology", Obama told Letterman. "They're off their game". If this seems a non-sequitur in the context of the Obama interview Letterman is leading onstage before it cuts away, there's a connection.

The Boston Globe expressed annoyance with the format and said it did "nothing interesting at all".

It's all pretty rote and familiar, and what's worse is Letterman's stage and interviewing manner, which is clearly rusty.

Letterman's new show - a six-episode, monthly project titled My Next Guest Needs No Introduction - takes place in front of an audience, no band for music, no desk, less an opening monologue than a few opening remarks.

Rather than wrap up with this, My Next Guest would have done well to keep the cameras rolling another hour, and begin the show at this deeper, more personal and more meaningful moment, and work forward from there.

While USA Today's Kelly Lawler called Letterman's premiere "a bit lackluster" and "halfhearted", others saw potential in the show's structure. Yet after that first back-and-forth, Letterman makes it clear that he'll be the one asking questions, and the discussion proceeds from there. Vulture's Matt Zoller Seitz wrote, "The looser and more structurally inventive things get here, the more fascinating the results could be".

Obama said he didn't miss the trappings of the office. And no one has studied Carson like David Letterman has studied Carson.

The reviews were not all bad.

Also risky for democracy, Obama says: political forces that keep trying to suppress rather than broaden voting.

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